Gary Ross Will No Longer Play THE HUNGER GAMES; Won’t Direct the Sequel, CATCHING FIRE [Update: Ross May Return After All]

     April 6, 2012

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Earlier this week, we reported that The Hunger Games director Gary Ross was in tough negotiations with Lionsgate over returning to helm the sequel, Catching Fire.  Initial reports stated that Ross believed he was entitled to more money since he had delivered a critically and commercially successful adaptation of the popular novel.  However, The Playlist now reports that Ross has decided not to direct the sequel, but money was only part of his decision.  According to The Playlist, Ross didn’t want to repeat himself, he liked the first book the best (so does everyone else), and he’s already got a successful career as screenwriter and script doctor.  Ross now plans to develop a screenplay he’s already written, and will do so for a higher payday than he would have received for Catching Fire.

Hit the jump for more.  Catching Fire is slated to open on November 22, 2013. [Update: Deadline now reports that reports stating Ross has withdrawn from Catching Fire are untrue.  They say the director is currently on vacation and couldn’t be reached, but multiple sources tell them that Ross is likely to return for the sequel.  We still have no official word from Ross or Lionsgate, so at this point we’ll just have to wait and see, but this makes sense.  Ross lobbied ridiculously hard to get The Hunger Games job in the first place, and in his interview with Steve he sounded enthusiastic about coming back.]

While I understand Ross’ decision to leave the franchise, I’m still a little bummed about his departure.  He had a clear vision for the world of Panem, and Ross’ replacement will likely toss that vision out in order to establish something new but not necessarily better.  I am also in no way looking forward to the slew of tedious Lionsgate-wish-list/frontrunner stories we’ll have to write as the studio hunts for a new director.

Also, for those who missed our story yesterday, Fox has allowed Jennifer Lawrence to shoot Catching Fire this fall before moving on to the sequel to X-Men: First Class in January 2013.

For those who haven’t read the book, here’s the synopsis for Suzanne CollinsCatching Fire:

Against all odds, Katniss Everdeen has won the annual Hunger Games with fellow district tribute Peeta Mellark. But it was a victory won by defiance of the Capitol and their harsh rules. Katniss and Peeta should be happy. After all, they have just won for themselves and their families a life of safety and plenty. But there are rumors of rebellion among the subjects, and Katniss and Peeta, to their horror, are the faces of that rebellion. The Capitol is angry. The Capitol wants revenge.

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