The Hunger Games: Catching Fire Gets a Rewrite from Toy Story Screenwriter, Gary Ross Tackles Harry Houdini
05.05.12 by Ryan
If you're going to work on the script for The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, you'd better have an Oscar.
Before Lionsgate even released The Hunger Games, the studio hired Academy Award–winning screenwriter Simon Beaufoy (Slumdog Millionaire) to adapt Suzanne Collins' sequel novel into a script, but after director Gary Ross decided against returning for the sequel, the studio hired Francis Lawrence (I Am Legend) to replace Ross and apparently wants the script rewritten.
Enter screenwriter Michael Arndt, who won the Best Screenplay Oscar for 2006's Little Miss Sunshine and was nominated for an Academy Award for 2010's Toy Story 3. THR reports Lionsgate is in talks with Arndt to rewrite Catching Fire, though no deal is in place yet. Should Arndt take the job, he'll have to write quickly, as the studio is still hoping to make an August-September start date so they can shoot the Hunger Games sequel before star Jennifer Lawrence has to start shooting the X-Men: First Class sequel next January.
Meanwhile, Ross has lined up a potential post-Hunger Games follow-up with an adaptation of The Secret Life of Houdini, The Making of America's First Superhero, the 2006 biography of Harry Houdini that was written by William Kalush and Larry Sloman. The book posited Houdini as a not only an escape artist, but also a spy for the British Secret Service. Summit Entertainment, now owned by Lionsgate, picked up the rights to the book in 2009 and want to turn it into a potential action-thriller franchise with a character that is "part Indiana Jones and part Sherlock Holmes." A separate THR report has Ross in negotiations to direct the project, which, ironically, could see competition from Ross' Catching Fire replacement, who also has a Houdini project in development at Columbia Pictures.
There's no word on whether the Houdini movie would be Ross' next project, as the director typically spends a good deal of time determining his slate. Ross can take his time, of course, as The Hunger Games has been a tremendous success, earning (to date) $605 million worldwide.