The Hunger Games director will not be “catching fire” when it comes to the upcoming Lionsgate sequel starring Jennifer Lawrence.
Ross and Lionsgate have both confirmed that the director has chosen to depart The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, based on the second book in the Suzanne Collins young adult book series. In a statement, Ross claimed he would not have enough prep and writing time to get the film in order for its upcoming fall shoot. In his words the decision was due to a “fixed and tight production schedule” that he simply could not work within.
The first rumors of Ross’ departure from The Hunger Games sequel surfaced almost a week ago. In a report from Indiewire, it was claimed that Ross did not want to creatively get stuck in a rut and return to the same franchise, something he has never done in his career. It further stated that Ross would instead take on his own feature that would pay more than Lionsgate could have for Catching Fire.
Lionsgate issued their own brief statement, saying how “very sorry” they are that Ross departed. They had hoped to keep Ross on board for Catching Fire and don’t rule out future projects involving the writer/director. Ultimately, it looks as if their self-imposed short production window is what drove Ross away.
Now the rush is on to get a new director signed and working with production set to get underway in a few short months. Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth, amongst other regulars, are all ready to go. Lawrence in particular cleared a hurdle with Fox and her X-Men: First Class sequel commitment when the studio announced a January 2013 start of production.
Whether this new director will tackle Gary Ross’ writing responsibilities on the script is up in the air. Lionsgate could get lucky and find someone to write and direct The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, or they could hire a writer on the side to come in and do touch up work.