Francis Lawrence Offered CATCHING FIRE Directing Gig

     April 19, 2012


Following a bit of a mad scramble to replace departing director Gary Ross, Lionsgate seems to have settled on his replacement for the impending Hunger Games sequel Catching Fire.  We recently learned that the studio had narrowed their list down to two choices: Moneyball director Bennett Miller and I Am Legend’s Francis Lawrence.  Now comes word that Lionsgate plans to extend the offer to—drumroll please—Mr. Lawrence!  Hit the jump for more.

francis-lawrence-catching-firePer Heat Vision, Lawrence will receive an offer to direct Catching Fire this afternoon.  The choice isn’t exactly surprising, as Miller was busy prepping his next feature, the drama Foxcatcher starring Steve Carell and Mark Ruffalo, for a December start date.  Moneyball was my favorite film of 2011, so I would have absolutely loved to see Miller tackle Catching Fire.  The problem with the sequel is that Lionsgate is moving forward with an incredibly rushed pre-production schedule.  Filming has to begin in August so that star Jennifer Lawrence is wrapped before moving on to the X-Men: First Class sequel in January.  Moreover, the studio has a prime November 2013 release date to make.

Ross’ exit was said to be the result of not only monetary negotiations, but also the lack of prep time given to hone the screenplay.  Author Suzanne Collins is heavily involved in the development of Catching Fire and is said to want a heavily faithful film adaptation from screenwriter Simon Beaufoy.  The book does have some great cinematic qualities, but also features a heavy share of problems that need to be altered for a better film adaptation.  Nevertheless, it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen.

jennifer-lawrence-catching-fireLawrence doesn’t have a terrible resume, but it’s not exactly inspiring either.  He proved he can do action just fine with I Am Legend, and he tried his hand at romantic drama with last year’s Water for Elephants.  I’d love nothing more than to be pleasantly surprised by a stunning and inventive adaptation of Catching Fire, but given Collins’ heavy involvement, the lack of prep time to get the script in perfect condition, and Lawrence’s journeyman qualities, I’m not necessarily holding my breath.

Other (arguably superior candidates to Lawrence) said to have been considered by the studio include Tomas Alfredson (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy), Alejandro Gonzalez Innaritu (Babel), Duncan Jones (Moon), and my personal pick, Cary Fukunaga (Sin Nombre, Jane Eyre).  Apparently Lawrence and Miller were the top candidates, though, and Lionsgate met with both directors earlier today before making their final pick.  Now on to predicting who’ll try to adapt the severely flawed final book, Mockingjay.

the hunger games catching-fire-book-cover

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  • Bobmann

    After looking at all of these inspired choices to helm this film, I just knew they were going to pick the worst possible one… and they Did.

    • i love hunger games


      I don’t understand Lionsgate out of all the choices, why? there shortlists didn’t even include any of talented female directors…I guess it’s just about moneymaking.

  • Strong Enough

    of course its a white guy

  • Bryce Forestieri

    Francis Who?! *barfing*

  • Bill

    They hired Bradley Cooper? From Limitless?

    • hlm

      wow I never noticed the resemblance before but goddamn, you’re right

  • Oliver

    In fairness; Simon Beaufoy is extremely talanted. The lack of prep time might not be such trouble if he’s already turned in a great script. Here’s hoping..

  • Dre Dre

    “Now on to predicting who’ll try to adapt the severely flawed final book, Mockingjay.”
    Im kinda sick of people saying this, sure the ending was rushed, but i thought the ending was about as “happy” as Collins could make it. I liked the whole PTSD thing and honestly the biggest disappointment was how she handled Gale.
    Mockingjay was better than Catching Fire…imo

  • ccraw13

    While the ending of Mockingjay does seem rushed, I have to say that a lot of how it resolves is incredibly realistic at least concerning the emotional arch of the characters and tone.

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  • milo

    Is this article announcing the next director or just an excuse to whine about the books? Frankly, HG was a far better adaptation than any of the Harry Potter movies, and for the most part it made the right decisions about what to keep faithful to the book and what to change. Personally I loved the second book, the biggest issue for me was getting off to a slow start and that’s not hard to fix. The toughest thing about the first one was the book having her alone so much with so much description of what she was thinking, and the second and third are much less reliant on that.

    And I agree with others who have posted, it seems like most people’s objections to Mockingjay were due to not being pandered to enough with a happy ending and a typical romance. It’s a bittersweet ending and there are things that happen that are frustrating to the reader, but I really got the impression that was exactly what the author was going for and I thought she nailed it. It would have been really lazy and cowardly to go much less dark, and that probably would have made the teen girls happier. But I’m really glad she went for more moral ambiguity and less of a stereotypical “satisfying” book and ending (the bad guys all get what they deserve in the end) and I hope the movies stay true to her vision and don’t water it down.

    It’s refreshing to read a book with a point to make, and it will be even more so to see that make it’s way into a mainstream film instead of the typical focus group blanding it out.

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  • Tommy

    However, the sequels will turn out it’s pretty much a guarantee they will be watered down to a PG-13. For that very reason I chose not to see hunger games in the theater but wait for the rental. That and how I hate some teen always talking and texting during the the film in a row ahead of me.

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  • drew

    Of all the hunks that could be cast for Finnick, why in the world would Robert Pattison be chosen – very poor casting. Francis Lawrence – he is not who we want to see as Finnick!

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