Gary Ross Challenges His ‘Hunger Games’ Successor Francis Lawrence to a ‘Houdini’ Duel

The world was shocked when, after directing the biggest financial success of his career with The Hunger Games, Gary Ross decided to pass on making the sequel, Catching Fire. Does he hate money? No, it turns out he just hated the too-tight schedule the film has to work under due to its star Jennifer Lawrence’s other commitments. But, do you know who has no such qualms with churning out a Hunger Games sequel on a truncated timeline? I Am Legend director Francis Lawrence. It wasn’t long after Ross dropped out that he stepped in.

Only time will tell if Ross was right and Lawrence is stepping into a poisonous situation with Catching Fire; once the second film comes out, we’ll just compare who did the better work. But news that broke today hints at the possibility that Ross and Lawrence might soon be competing for our hearts and minds with more than just their individual takes on Hunger Games material; they might soon be earning comparisons to one another because of dueling Houdini biopics as well.

THR has word that Ross is currently in talks to come on board Summit’s adaptation of “The Secret Life of Houdini: The Making of America’s First Superhero,” a biography researched and written by William Kalush and Larry Sloman that paints the famous magician as an adventurer type character who had a secret life as a spy and may have been murdered by a shadowy cabal of spiritualists.

If Ross ends up taking the job, that would mean there would be two big Houdini films in the works in Hollywood, because, as has been previously reported, Lawrence has been busy prepping an eventual Houdini biopic for Sony. Neither Ross has committed to making his Houdini movie his next feature nor Lawrence his Houdini project his next after Catching Fire, but the possibilities are certainly there. And the chance that these two could become real-life arch-nemeses in the process seems good. Ross has even already grown an evil goatee.

Weaned on the genre films of the 80s. Reared by the independent movement of the 90s. Earned a BA for writing stuff in the 00s. Reviews current releases at

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