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.
Per 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.
Lawrence 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.