Per The Playlist, the rumors have now been confirmed. Gary Ross will not be returning for the Hunger Games sequel, Catching Fire. The film is set to begin production this fall (which should allow time for star Jennifer Lawrence to start working on the X-Men: First Class sequel come January) so this doesn’t appear to leave a lot of time to find a new director. But Ross wasn’t initially contracted for more than the first film, unlike the cast, so presumably Lionsgate has been thinking about this for some time.
Which would be good. Wouldn’t want to have to rush the choice and end up with one of the Weitz brothers (who’ve never met a teen franchise they didn’t like).
The Hunger Games was Ross’s third film as director, and he did a solid job with the material. Initial speculation was that he and the studio were at odds over pay for the sequel, but as The Playlist rightly points out, that’s most likely not the case. Ross’s more consistent career is in screenwriting (Big, Dave, Pleasantville, The Hunger Games), and with his three directorial efforts being spread across fourteen years, it’s clear he’s choosing his films carefully and knowingly.
So if Ross is out, who’s in? Lionsgate hasn’t let leak yet who they’re considering, but I’d be surprised if it ends up being a truly out of left field choice. The Twilight films played it fairly safe and traditional, at least until Breaking Dawn‘s Bill Condon was announced, but Lionsgate is (theoretically) a bit edgier of a studio than Summit, so who knows where they’ll go next. Looking at some of the names in their stable of directors offers some intriguing (and terrifying) options though. Maybe Simon West, Drew Goddard, John Singleton, Marcus Nispel, Neveldine/Taylor or…Tyler Perry?
Who are we kidding. It’ll probably be Chris Columbus.
Catching Fire is set to open November 22, 2013.