It's official. Hunger Games director Gary Ross says he won't direct the sequel, Catching Fire. While he'd said that before, fans were keeping hope alive that Lionsgate studios would find a way to convince him to reconsider. They didn't and he won't!
Ross made certain everyone knew the decision was a final one by releasing the following statement. "Despite recent speculation in the media, and after difficult but sincere consideration, I have decided not to direct Catching Fire." He then went on to confirm what some Hollywood insiders were betting was the reason behind his decision.
"As a writer and a director, I simply don't have the time I need to write and prep the movie I would have wanted to make because of the fixed and tight production schedule."
Ross went on to praise Lionsgate for their support of him on the first film. He also lauded the production staff, cast and crew. He called the film the most pleasurable experience of his professional career and thanked fans for their support and faith in him.
Insiders reported earlier this week that Ross was hesitant to do a rush job with Catching Fire. As it stands, the screenplay requires completion within just a couple of months because filming begins in late August or early September. That's because of a scheduling conflict with leading lady Jennifer Lawrence. The sequel only has her until the end of this year. She starts filming another movie in January.
That means that Lionsgate will rush to find a new director. The short timing could force them to take on someone of considerably less talent than Ross. If he or she is not already a fan of the books, that could cause another problem. Fans will freak if the storyline deviates too far from them. In short, it could get messy.
Many film franchises have suffered when the director's chair got changed mid stream. Tim Burton's turn with Batman was less than successful. It tanked the series for a short time. It took a reboot to revive the franchise. Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 shows what happens when the director takes liberties with the original plot line, leaving it disconnected from the first film. More American Graffiti proved that different directors approach the same topic from difference points of view. George Lucas got it right with the original movie. His predecessor ruined everything.
Will The Hunger Games sequel falter or, worse yet, flop in the hands of another director? Only time will tell but fans aren't feeling optimistic.