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


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 [Update: Deadline now reports that reports stating Ross has withdrawn from Catching Fire are untrue.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.



  • The13thDoctor

    That is kind of a bummer. Then again when does negotiations regarding salary ever end with all parties involved being happy? Or for that matter when does it end with the studio aquiescing to the demands of the aggressor? Postively speaking though it definitely didn’t hur the Harry Potter Franchise when they change directors I just hope Lion’s Gate exercises the same good sense they had upon choosing Ross for the first film.

  • Farzan

    Good move for Ross. The man is talented and doesn’t need to take crap from Lionsgate. He delivers a money maker for the studio and the studio cheapens up regarding a sequel. Just like what happened with Twilight after the first film.

    • Roscoe

      A money maker but poorly filmed movie.

  • AlexHeyNa

    Possible replacement suggestions (in no particular order):

    Sam Mendes
    Brad Bird
    Ron Howard
    Frank Darabont
    Spike Jonze
    Roman Polanski

    Anyone else have any thoughts?

    • Dre Dre

      yeah i was thinking Brad Bird as well. Maybe Paul Greengrass. If they want to keep the whole “gritty, shaky cam” thing going.

    • Jim

      None of those directors are cheaper than Ross. LG won’t pay. They think these movies will make themselves.

    • Will

      Kathryn Bigelow would be an excellent choice!!!

      • Drake

        Christopher Nolan ;) lol just kidding

    • daveyboy

      Roman Polanski? that doesnt make any sense…not only would they have to shoot the entire film in europe,he still wouldnt make any sense to direct a big hollywood blockbuster…you are silly

      • AlexHeyNa

        Clearly you’ve never seen Pirates. Besides, if Catching Fire is anything like Hunger Games (I’ve never read the books), it’s not a HUGE blockbuster film. It’s SOMEWHAT low-key, and more character-driven.

  • girlonfire

    Gary was fired, right?

  • Roscoe

    The sequel needs to be filmed better. The tight shots together hand held were just bad film making. Well composed movies are becoming a lost art. Super fans don’t want to hear that.

    • Alan

      I didn’t think that the “shaky-cam” was a problem, in and of itself. However, the incorporation of very still shots in the midst of a predominantly handheld sequence creates visual disorder. It is like being on a roller-coaster which stops every five seconds. This isn’t ‘Hanna’, here, in which the visual style modulates over the course of a film. Ross, pick a style and stick to it.

      Another key problem is that Ross will establish an interesting and evocative shot, and will – for reasons beyond me – cut away to a boring series of shots. A good example is when Lawrence is interviewed by Tucci for the first time, and you see the crowd from her perspective: the long shot is hazy, almost unfocused, but the image is effective because it suggests the facelessness of the crowd. What does Ross cut to? A series of closer shots of the crowd, in which you can more clearly register their faces. Why? I have no clue, but he does this several times, as he stumbles ass-backwards onto a compelling image, and will then try to undermine that image as best he can with the next edit.

      I liked the film, but my beef with the film is the directing: I thought, why isn’t Billy Ray (one of the credited screenwriters) directing this, if not a more accomplished visual filmmaker.

      “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. ”

      Goldberg, you are such a tool. You use terms like “vision” without understanding what they mean: shaking the camera equals vision?

  • Blanca

    I am very disappointed to read this news. As a fan of the books and now the movie, I was looking forward to seeing Gary’s interpretation of “Catching Fire”. His dedication to keeping the movie loyal to the book is what made “The Hunger Games” movie so great. It takes a lot as a fan to trust a director’s vision, when translating a novel into a movie. Thank you Lionsgate for taking that away. You should have given Gary what he asked for.

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  • NittyGritty

    Can you imagine what Alfonso Cuaron could do with “Catching Fire”? Remember “Children of Men”?

  • Dre Dre

    I loved the books, loved the movie as well, but it could have been better. hope the new director can direct action better.

  • Dustin

    Well this sucks. Get Duncan Jones. Remember Source Code? Brutal action mixed with deep emotion. He’s new but could get the job done.

  • SP1234

    My possible replacements might be either John Madden (The Debt) or James Watkins (The Woman In Black). Madden might be the better choice, like Ross he’s directed several acclaimed films (including Shakespeare In Love) and The Debt was an incredible action thriller with a lot of mature content, that could go very well with the Catching Fire story. Watkins did an amazing job with Woman In Black, but that was only his second film (the other one I think was the horror film Eden Lake with Michael Fassbender), so experience is kind of against him.

  • Curbcooler

    Gary Ross gives Lionsgate there first non flop in years and this is what they do? For shame. But I do think that Spike Jonze or Alfonso Cuaron would be a perfect fit to replace him.

    • cocaine heart

      for reals. this is super sad tho, bc I believe Ross was really the one who made sure this wasn’t some epic POS franchise starter. He kept the feel of the books and got great performances out of his actors. This is not good news :(

  • mattedscreen

    Personally I think the next movie should be done in Lego

  • Leonardo

    Personally, this movie was shit!

  • Dan

    Well this sucks. I was looking forward to seeing Ross’ interpretation of Catching Fire and eventually Mockingjay. Oh well, what are you gonna do right? If he doesn’t change his mind, the 2 directors I had in mind were Marc Webb or Gore Verbinski.

  • Bryce Forestieri

    What in the hell?! Now they better get a good director! This bunch of imbeciles! Ugh! They better not enlist a cheap no-name!

  • brandon

    Zack Snyder. It’s going to be Zack Snyder.

  • John

    Did anyone bother to count how many out of focus or blurry shots were in the movie? Probably about half the film. When did this become acceptable filmmaking? The needless jump cut editing was ineffective and useless. Get a new director with some style and one who hires a decent cinematographer.

    • NolanFan

      Wally Pfister should film.

  • spideydave

    Brad Bird!

  • Hazza

    While I agree that Ross did a good job keeping the film somewhat grounded and faithful to the source, the camera work was terrible in some of those action scenes. If they can get someone with the same dedication to the story but with a little more skill in filming action then it’s not all bad is it? Cuaron would be amazing

  • P

    the book was better… too much was lost in the movie.

  • Hahaha

    Gary Ross and Lionsgate have not confirmed this, this is just a rumor.

  • spongefist

    Michael Bay perhaps?

    • Jordan


  • Jordan

    Another thing people may not realize is that Ross also co-wrote the screenplay. I’m not saying he wrote the entire freaking screenplay, but he could have had a substantial role in translating it into a suitable version of the book into movie form. None-the-less, I have faith that someone else can do just as well, even better (hopefully changing up how the action scenes were shot), and suzanne Collins and Billy ray will pull out another awesome screenplay for Catching Fire! November 2013 couldn’t come sooner!

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  • SP1234

    And a lot of people don’t realize that Suzanne Collins co-wrote the screenplay as well. I’m guessing she was fine with the changes that they did make and realistically, the movies can’t be 100% perfectly accurate to the book, and even with the changes, it was as accurate to the book as anyone could get.

  • Alex–

    This is great news. Ross shouldn’t be directing back to back sequels anyway. His film was good but nothing amazing, also all political and emotional depth was completely wasted, shame on Ross.

    Get some fresh blood in for the sequel, but a good dramatic director for gods sake. Not another snorefest like the Harry potter franchise. Get a foreign film director, they are cheap, eager and talented. It worked for the prisoner of azkaban.

    Ross can direct a future sequel after this second one with a fresher and hopefully superior perspective.

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  • Dre Dre

    the update says it might not be true. I would love to have Ross back for the sequel.

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