The Hunger Games sequel Catching Fire has ended its short stint without a director after Gary Ross bowed out of the Lionsgate project due to insufficient prep time.
Deadline reports that Francis Lawrence will take the reigns on Catching Fire, the second of four planned films based on author Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games book series. He beat out Moneyball director Bennett Miller, who was already committed to Foxcatcher starring Steve Carell, and Juan Antonio Bayona, who also had scheduling conflicts.
Lawrence most recently directed Water for Elephants starring Robert Pattinson and Reese Witherspoon. The 2011 release is rated 61% fresh at Rotten Tomatoes by nearly 200 critics. His previous efforts include I Am Legend with Will Smith and Constantine with Keanu Reeves. Prior to motion pictures, Lawrence was heavily involved in directing music videos.
Lionsgate is aiming to kick off production on The Hunger Games: Catching Fire to mid-to-late August. Star Jennifer Lawrence will then immediately jump to another sequel, Fox’s X-Men: First Class 2 as soon as Catching Fire wraps up.
With Francis Lawrence on board, audiences can expect the controversial and generally unaccepted Gary Ross “shakey cam” to be retired. Lawrence has a keen eye for framing his shots rather than running around with a handheld camera.
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire will star Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth. It is on track for a November 22, 2013 release. The third and fourth films in the series have not been formally green-lit, though are as good as made considering The Hunger Games worldwide box office gross is at $535 million and counting.