Director Gary Ross Still in Negotiations for HUNGER GAMES Sequel, CATCHING FIRE; Release Date May Be in Jeopardy

by     Posted 2 years, 137 days ago


As I said many times in my review, Gary Ross‘ direction was the strongest element of The Hunger Games.  But for Lionsgate, the movie’s ability to make a crazy amount of money was the strongest element of The Hunger Games.  Now, THR is reporting that Ross and the studio are locked in tense negotiations over his return to direct the sequel, Catching Fire.  Lead actors Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, and Liam Hemsworth are already signed for Catching Fire (and I imaging they’re also signed for the third installment, Mockingjay), but Ross doesn’t have a deal in place.  He was paid $3 million for co-writing and directing the film plus 5 percent on the back-end.  Unsurprisingly, he would like a raise on the sequel.

Hit the jump for more including why Catching Fire might not make its November 22, 2013 release date.

the-hunger-games-posterAccording to THR, negotiations on the first film were tough because Ross already had a successful, Oscar-nominated movie to his name (Seabiscuit), but Lionsgate had never paid a hefty filmmaker salary before (Hunger Games was the highest-budgeted project in the studio’s history).  Now that Hunger Games will undoubtedly be one of the highest-grossing films of the year, Ross has some leverage, but current franchise trends aren’t moving in his favor.

Other major franchises have shown no hesitation in constantly switching out directors.  After all, it’s the title that draws people into the theaters, not the filmmaker.  Harry Potter went through four directors as did Twilight, and Marvel has basically made it a policy never to rehire any of their directors.  The studio’s highest priority is making sure to keep the franchise flowing without delay, and prolonged negotiations with Ross may cause a delay.  There’s also the added problem of Ross taking time to revise Simon Beaufoy‘s script for Catching Fire.

Lionsgate is also facing an issue with the sequel’s scheduled November 22, 2013 release date.  Fox could stymie Lionsgate’s plans by exercising Lawrence’s option to do the sequel for X-Men: First Class.  Sources tell THR that Fox’s option would take priority over Lionsgate’s.  Lionsgate is aiming to get Catching Fire into production by the fall, but Fox already has their director ready to go (Matthew Vaughn is signed to return for First Class 2).  However, First Class 2 doesn’t have a release date.

Ross’ does have a few counters against Lionsgate.  First, he’s a known quantity and has established a relationship with the cast and crew.  He also delivered a critically well-received movie.  Granted, The Hunger Games would have crushed at the box office no matter what, but the positive response indicates that he’s now in higher demand for other properties.  It’s an impressive boost for a director who hadn’t helmed a project since Seabiscuit in 2003.

Despite the acrimony, a source tells THR that the two sides will eventually make a deal:

Ultimately, it will be difficult, and yet everybody will do the sane thing, which is to work it out,” says one. “Everybody will end up unhappy in their own way. It’s just the nature of the beast.”

The alternative is to throw 24 directors into an arena and have them fight to the death.  And if you’re having trouble imagining other directors taking over the franchise, take a look at these fake posters for The Hunger Games.


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  • Cory

    Get this done, Lionsgate. Don’t fuck this up.

    As for the release date, I’d push it back to March of 2014 anyway. Fox is going to exercise the option on Lawrence’s contract because of all the heat she has. She’ll have a higher profile with the First Class sequel.

    Waiting exactly two years for Catching Fire is fine, instead of pumping this out for next November. Give yourself the extra five months.

  • mackenzie

    I really liked Gary Ross’ direction of the first film. Looking forward to the next ones! Here is a great cast list from IMDB for the next films
    Who do you think should be cast?

  • Frank

    Worst case scenario: Hire Steven Soderbergh. He was the one who was rumored to have directed many of the second-unit action sequences anyway — including “The Feast” moment.

  • Paul

    I hope they can get Gary Ross back.

    Not sure how i’d feel about Steven Soderbergh – he’s a talented filmmaker but might be too cold & cerebral for this kind of film – besides, he’s still dangling that “retirement” in the air.

    Anywho, I can see Fox screwing everyone over. It’s not like they’ll wait until The Hunger Games series is over to do X-Men First Class II

  • O.R.

    Although I know what the studios care most about is the money they make off movies–and, let’s be honest, people who likes THG will go see CF no matter who directs it–, Lionsgate would be stupid not to re-hire Ross. They must see that what has gone wrong with other franchises in terms of quality has been the constant rotation of directors, and Ross is already quite commited.

    Also, even though she IS committed by contract, choosing X-Men over THG might not be the best move in Lawrence’s career. After all, casual audience members don’t remember her being in the movie. You know, because she was blue and all that? I’ve seen a lot of people surprised over the fact that the actress playing Katniss also played Mystique, so it’d be better for her to stick to the series that gave her widespread recognition in the first place.

  • Juaners

    I really enjoyed the first movie but the one complaint I had was with the direction…not all of it mind you but Mr. Ross isn’t Mr. Greengrass. Please allow us to see the action on screen.

    The action sequences looked as though the person working the camera fell over and had a fit. I know that directors want to give the audience an idea of the chaos and energy the characters are feeling but really it doesn’t make for great cinema.

    Again I think Mr. Ross is the right man for the job all I ask is let us see what’s happening.

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  • Jim

    I know that this movie was aimed to be seen for PG-13 viewers. But as men and women that read this book, (Which is about death and groosemly explains it in the book) we want to see more action. We as readers visualize one thing happen in the book and a completely different thing happen in the movie. We then get pissed off. So for the movie to have more brutality and blood would be awesome. The trilogy of books is based on KILLING.

  • Alex–

    Just get a new good director, the number of talented directors, more than Ross’s equals are legion.

  • Alex–

    Just get a new good director, the number of talented directors, more than Ross’s equals are legion.

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  • Amy

    I think it would seriously be unwise for the studio to not rehire Gary Ross because despite the moviegoers’ main reason for watching the movie is because it’s THG, I think they might have some difficulty watching it because they’ll be adapting to a new style of direction. And I did love how Gary Ross directed the picture. It was almost perfect in my opinion because I felt he truly captured Collins’ novel. I do hope, if the studio rehires him again, they would stop with the shaky camera thing because it doesn’t seem appropriate for some scenes like the first part of the film.

  • amitiel

    It was a good movie and I agree Ross deserves a hefty share of the credit, but so does the cast (with the exception, unfortunately of Hutcherson). But the final sequences from Katniss and Peeta in the cave through the end felt as if the entire production was exhausted and ready to call it a day. Dare I say, as if they were phoning it in? Which makes little sense I know because these things are rarely filmed in order. Still, there was a lot of symbolic and dramatic material to be mined in the last 20 minutes that was left hanging. Perhaps Soderbergh would be a good choice to carry the torch if he would take it.

  • Big Red

    Wasn’t a *huge* fan of Ross’ direction other than the fact that he was clearly passionate about the material and stuck to the book…he also didn’t make certain elements of the *film* clear for those who hadn’t read the books. So in many ways he was a great fit for the fans, but for those new to the material, he was a bit too slavish to the books.

    Was watching “Hanna” again yesterday and it hit me…if you’re going to go with a new director, I think Joe Wright would be an incredible choice.

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  • gmb

    I’m BEGGING Ross to skip the shaky camera in the future. It added nothing to the film and a load of frustration and headaches for everyone I know who saw the film.

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