Director Francis Lawrence Offered Catching Fire
04.20.12 by Chris
When Gary Ross opted not to return to direct Jennifer Lawrence in the sequel to The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, the search was on to quickly replace him. Just a little over a week after Ross bowed out, Lionsgate is said to have found a replacement — Francis Lawrence.
His directing credits include I Am Legend, Constantine, and Water for Elephants. Before featured films, Lawrence made his mark directing music videos for Britney Spears, Janet Jackson, Jennifer Lopez, and Green Day. While Lawrence has proven he can handle a large production with extensive special effects (I Am Legend), THR says it might have been his open schedule and not his résumé that landed him the job.
With a Catching Fire release date (Nov. 22, 2013) already locked in place, Lionsgate was racing the clock in replacing Ross. Jennifer Lawerence is due to start shooting her scenes as Mystique for Fox's X-Men: First Class sequel in January — meaning, Lionsgate has to have Catching Fire in production by late summer or early fall (it was the tight production schedule that made Ross exit the movie). Francis Lawrence, who recently directed the pilot episode for Fox's Touch, is without a major project on his plate.
He reportedly beat out Moneyball's Bennett Miller, Tomas Alfredson (Tinker Tailer Soldier Spy), Duncan Jones (Source Code), Cary Fukunaga (Jane Eyre), and Alejandro Gonzalez Innaritu (Babel). He also beat out Alfonso Cuarón, who might not have been on Lionsgate's shortlist but was a favorite among fans, who hoped he would do the same thing for the Hunger Games franchise as what he did for the Harry Potter series.
If Francis Lawrence takes the Catching Fire job, he and the studio will face an uphill battle to rush the movie into production by the end of the summer. The movie's script is still not locked down: While Simon Beaufoy had turned in a script, Ross planned to rewrite it before going into production. And fans of the book know that Catching Fire is a more elaborate and complex story than Hunger Games.
Someone is going to have a busy summer.