Moneyball and I Am Legend Directors Join The Hunger Games: Catching Fire Shortlist
04.18.12 by Ryan
The Hunger Games director Gary Ross sent studio Lionsgate into scramble-mode when he announced that he wouldn't return to direct the sequel, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. Already armed with a script from Academy Award–winning screenwriter Simon Beaufoy (Slumdog Millionaire), Lionsgate is still trying to make an August start date for Catching Fire so they can shoot with franchise star Jennifer Lawrence before her schedule gets filled with the X-Men: First Class sequel.
The LA Times reported last week that the studio had compiled a list of seven or eight names to take the director's chair, which reportedly includes David Cronenberg (A Dangerous Method, Eastern Promises), Alfonso Cuaron (Children of Men, ), and Alejandro Gonzalez Iñárritu (Biutiful, Babel). According to The Playlist, that list also includes directors Bennett Miller (Moneyball) and Francis Lawrence (I Am Legend).
Miller seems like a long-shot, since the director seems to be moving forward on his long-in-development drama Foxcatcher, which recently cast The Avengers star Mark Ruffalo and is looking to start shooting this October, in direct conflict with Lionsgate's shooting schedule requirements. It seems doubtful that Miller would put four years of work on hold (again) to make Catching Fire.
Cronenberg also seems like a long-shot, considering his preference to stick with indie projects instead of studio tenpoles, but after directing tween fave and Twilight star Robert Pattinson in the upcoming Cosmopolis, perhaps Catching Fire is something Cronenberg might consider. However, it might be harder for Lionsgate to get that PG-13 rating with Cronenberg at the helm, so we're not keeping our fingers crossed.
Cuaron and Iñárritu are both solid choices and, with both directors having experience with screenwriting, could be called upon to rewrite Beaufoy's draft — which, despite the screenwriter's pedigree, is reportedly in need of a rewrite. Cuaron, however, is the frontrunner with fans after stepping into the Harry Potter franchise with 2004's Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, the first of the series to not be directed by Chris Columbus. Still, Cuaron's sci-fi epic Gravity won't be out until this November and, while filming wrapped late last year, the CGI-heavy movie could require Cuaron's attention well into the fall, making him unavailable for Lionsgate's start date needs.
That leaves Lawrence, who is certainly familiar with action after directing I Am Legend and Constantine. He also went for the dramatic with last year's Water for Elephants (which also starred Pattinson, coincidentally). Hiring Lawrence, however, would also require the studio to hire a writer as well, unless they allow Suzanne Collins to rewrite Beaufoy's script by herself (Collins worked with Ross on the first Hunger Games).
Our guess? While there are still a few names that have yet to be revealed, we'll go with Iñárritu, who would reunite with his Babel and Biutiful producer Jon Kilik on Catching Fire. We're not saying that friends hiring friends is how things usually go down in Hollywood, so we'll just call it "a feeling" instead.
Whoever Lionsgate does choose, expect an answer soon.