Gary Ross Releases Statement Confirming He Won’t Direct THE HUNGER GAMES Sequel CATCHING FIRE

     April 10, 2012

the hunger games catching fire gary ross

We heard last week that despite Gary Ross‘ enthusiasm for the material, he will not return to direct Catching Fire, the sequel to The Hunger Games.  But there was a conflicting report that Ross, who did a bang-up job adapting the first movie, was likely to direct the sequel and would say so himself once he returned from vacation.  Sadly, that is not the case.  Ross released an official statement explaining why he will move on from the franchise:

“Despite recent speculation in the media, and after difficult but sincere consideration, I have decided not to direct Catching Fire. As a writer and a director, I simply don’t have the time I need to write and prep the movie I would have wanted to make because of the fixed and tight production schedule.”

Hit the jump for the full statement, plus Lionsgate’s response.

Deadline posted Ross’ statement:

gary-ross-catching fire the hunger games

Despite recent speculation in the media, and after difficult but sincere consideration, I have decided not to direct Catching Fire. As a writer and a director, I simply don’t have the time I need to write and prep the movie I would have wanted to make because of the fixed and tight production schedule.

I loved making The Hunger Games – it was the happiest experience of my professional life. Lionsgate was supportive of me in a manner that few directors ever experience in a franchise: they empowered me to make the film I wanted to make and backed the movie in a way that requires no explanation beyond the remarkable results. And contrary to what has been reported, negotiations with Lionsgate have not been problematic. They have also been very understanding of me through this difficult decision.

I also cannot say enough about the people I worked with: Producer Nina Jacobson, a great collaborator and a true friend; the brilliant Suzanne Collins, who entrusted us with her most amazing and important story; the gifted and remarkable Jennifer Lawrence whose performance exceeded my wildest expectations, and the rest of the incredible cast, whom I am proud to call my friends.

To the fans I want to say thank you for your support your faith, your enthusiasm and your trust. Hard as this may be to understand I am trying to keep that trust with you. Thank you all. It’s been a wonderful experience.

the hunger games catching-fire-book-coverIt’s a very classy exit, and leaves the bridge open to direct the third entry, Mockingjay (see below).  But this is a man who directed just three movies since 1998.  It is totally understandable that he is not ready to be herded into the rushed world of blockbuster franchising.  (Catching Fire will shoot this fall for release on November 22, 2013.)  Instead, the prior report suggests Ross will now develop a screenplay he’s already written.

This was Lionsgate’s response:

We’re very sorry that Gary Ross has chosen not to direct Catching Fire. We were really looking forward to making the movie with him. He did an incredible job on the first film and we are grateful for his work. This will not be the end of our relationship, as we consider Ross to be part of the Lionsgate family and look forward to working with him in the future.

Really this is standard PR talk, and it’s wishful thinking to imagine Ross will return for Mockingjay.  But it’s not out of the realm of possibility.  I imagine we at Collider will spend the next few weeks passing along the rumors on who is now up for the job.  Hopefully the rush that forced Ross out will lead to a new hire quickly.  Best of luck to the new guy.

Around The Web
  • nelson

    sounds alot like matthew Vaughn’s x men 3 exit

    • Mr. Me

      …Bryan Singer?

  • Carlos

    Best of luck to the new GUY? Sexist much?

    •!/colliderbrendan Brendan Bettinger

      Actually meant “new guy” as colloquially unisex, and I think a female director would be great for Katniss. But this kind of job goes to a male director 9 times out of 10. I’ll happily swallow my words if Lionsgate hires a lady.

  • Strong Enough


    i haven’t watched the movie yet…

  • phoenix2103

    sigh, that hurts the franchise a lot.

    But who knows, maybe Steven Soderbergh (longshot), who was second unit director in this movie, would be the perfect director for CF. Or maybe Joe Wright, Duncan Jones or Neil Blomkamp

    • O.R.

      You know, I’m not sure about Soderbergh. He directed some of the shakier and least enjoyable sequences in the movie, so I don’t know how good he’ll be. I just hope the new director will be able to maintain the tone and style with which Ross started the films.

    • Phil Beta

      I’m pretty sure Blomkamp would never do the job. He’s not like that.

  • CocaineHeart

    awww wow what a bummer! I think Ross was really good and a perfect fit for this franchise… this hurts! :(

  • Alex

    I just read comments from the fans of THG in tumblr and they are really mad at Lionsgate for not giving Gary Ross the time he needs to make the movie. They feel like Gary is giving up on the project because he doesn’t feel he can do it during the time that Lionsgate is requiring him to do it. It makes sense for some part but I want to know what you guys think about this. Is it really Lionsgate’s “fault” that Gary doesn’t direct CF? and why?

  • Alex–

    Good news.

    Now I suggest a foreign film director. Cheap eager and talented it worked for Prisoner of Azkaban.

    Another option is a female director. Mira Nair (monsoon wedding, the namesake), Massy Tadjedin (the jacket, last night) or kathryn bigelow.

    • That Film Nerd

      I really and truly believe that ALFONSO CUARON will do an absolute job on Catching Fire. Children of Men and Prisoner of Azkaban were very well done. I think he can make it slightly darker without making it Rated R. But i’m still sad that Gary Ross is not directing, i thought he did an excellent job.

  • AlexHeyNa

    “Also, Lionsgate is a bunch of cheap assholes who aren’t willing to pay me, even though I made them one of the biggest films in box office history. They are a bunch of stupid cunts.”

    I guess they left that part out?

  • Azzam

    Its sad but Lionsgate was smart to hire a good director who has vision but isn’t lost with in it so that they could be replaced. Garry Ross did good work but wouldn’t be impossible to take that ground work and have another director see it off. I could see a female director doing well with it but id love to see some one like Cary Fukunaga or Andrea Arnold. More so Andrea Arnold. She is great can direct her ass off and has been mostly working in the UK.

    I’d say this could be a good stepping out party for her.

  • potterboy

    get the great Korean filmmakers. two of the best filmmakers today are Park Chan Wook(of OLDBOY) and Jee-woon Kim(of I SAW THE DEVIL). and both have already made English language debuts( due out this year).

    i agree with the someone who posted that do a Alfonso Cuaron-esque pick. these two guys are inspired choices, and very VERY talented

  • terry

    They’ll probably end up using Michael Bay for his ability to blow sh** it and deliver a racially charged screen play for satirical purposes.

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  • Bonobo

    Where the Hunger Games games really came up lacking, was in the direction – many great components, such as fine story, good actors, a great score and inventive costume design, that just did not gel together for peak impact (a few not so fine components too, lackluster set design and the awful GCI chief amongst them). So many missed dramatic/humorous/shocking opportunities (I haven’t read the book, I’m just talking about stuff inherent to the material as I saw it on screen).

    The cinematography is also to blame, not a single iconic frame or strikingly beautiful composition, everything in close ups or mid-shots – it’s a guaranteed blockbuster from the starting gate, so how come it doesn’t have the visual awe of something like the LOTR or The Matrix or even just the Harry Potter movies? I’m glad Ross didn’t do the pointless bombast of something like the Transformer movies or POTC, but he seems to have replaced it with a bland TV look. Hell when you consider the genre here – near-future dystopia – our points of visual reference should be Blade Runner, A Clockwork Orange, 1984 and Ghost in the Shell – shaming The Hunger Games even further.

    Long story short, I’m glad Ross is stepping aside, even if I’m not very enthusiastic about this series. Of course the producers are equally to blame for a lot I’ve said, and they are not going anywhere I presume…

    • Salfie

      I completely disagree. The shot of Prim walking up during the reaping tucking her shirt back into her skirt, Katniss fighting to get to her and volunteering, Gale sitting forlorn in the meadow when the games begin, Cinna holding his finger to his mouth when he sees the mockingjay pin, etc. These are just a few of the shots that stuck with me.

      • Bonobo

        I agree that the shirt-tucking and and Cinna with the pin were good moments, but these scenes/shots had impact due to how they were written, not because how they were framed.

        Think of the vertigo-zoom down the forest path when a terrified Frodo anticipates the Ring Rider for the first time, or the giant statues in the canyon. Nothing in the Hunger Games compares for dread or grandeur.

        Think of Rutger Hauer giving his tears-in-rain speech on the roof in Blade Runner, and then think of the Katniss-Peeta heart-to-heart on the window sill.

        Think of Neo waking up in his pod, or the helicopter hitting the scyscraper, or the mirror scene in The Matrix. Where is the Sci-Fi visual inventiveness in THG?

        Compare how the gang and it’s hierarchy and dynamics were captured in perfect, ice cold wide shots in A Clockwork Orange, while Cato’s gang in The Hunger Games was always just three or four smirking villans in a hand held medium shot, an unremarkable forrest the backdrop.

        And to take a final example close to home, think of the breathtaking, flame-dressed demise of the Antagonist in Battle Royal, and then consider how Cato’s death looked like the end of a Stargate episode.

      • Salfie

        I guess we just agree to disagree. I loved how the camera followed Prim during that moment. It reminded me of something Gus Van Sant or Stanley Kubrick would do. I take your point. Perhaps a new director isn’t necessarily a bad idea. I do feel like Ross approached the project with an appreciation for the source material and made an effort to make the Hunger Games a quality movie.

  • Dre Dre

    Paul Greengrass
    Duncan Jones
    Brad Bird
    Gavin O’Connor

    O’Connor directed the movie Warrior, a great movie that focused on the characters, but had great action when the movie required it. And hes kinda unknown so he would come cheaper then the others.

  • mattinacan

    This movie is making so much money, why the rush? Why not give him the time he needs to make the movie he wants to? That being said, i agree with everyone that Cuaron would be an inspired choice.

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  • NittyGritty

    Cuaron Please!

  • sabresfan

    As a fan of the books I will be glad for a new director to step on board. I was disappointed in the movie. There was no character development, we had to explain what was going on to people who didn’t read the books. By the end of the movie you didn’t really care about anyone. It seems he had his own story he wanted to tell and it didn’t always coincide with what was important and moving in the book. Stick to the book and don’t add in things that aren’t in there. Some of it didn’t make any sense.

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  • Sci-fi

    Lionsgate was giving Ross 4 months to write and prep the movie, which is insane for such a huge film. It’s clear they’re more interested in release dates than actual good movies. The same thing happened with Iron Man 2, Favs didn’t have enough time to write and prep the movie and we got a sub par film because of that. Ross is a smart man, he got rich off HG and has plenty of new clout to get other passion projects made, so he’s cashing out. Fuck Lions Gate.

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