Even though director Gary Ross made a “Hunger Games” adaptation that has shattered box office records and has received generally great reviews, the director will not be taking on the task of adapting the second film in the series. But now, less than a week after Ross stepped down from the director’s chair, Lionsgate has already chosen a replacement.
Drumroll please …
Francis Lawrence has been named director for “Catching Fire.”
Lawrence is not inexperienced, he helmed the Will Smith vampire film “I Am Legend” and also directed Robert Pattinson and Reese Witherspoon in the drama “Water for Elephants.”
The director was chosen after the frontrunners for the job were narrowed down from Lawrence and “Moneyball” director Bennett Miller. Lawrence probably won the role due to his experience with action films and because he is comfortable adapting books into films (Both “I Am Legend” and “Water for Elephants” are highly regarded pieces of literature.)
Now Lawrence must take the reins on the “Hunger Games” sequel and review the script written by the Oscar-winning director of “Slumdog Millionaire,” Simon Beaufoy.
So why did all this director shake-up occur in the first place?
Ross says it’s over scheduling conflicts. The “Hunger Games” director’s official statement on the matter says this, “Despite recent speculation in the media, and after difficult but sincere consideration, I have decided not to direct ‘Catching Fire’. 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 also made it explicitly clear that rumours of a difficult negotiations are just that: rumours. He says Lionsgate has been extremely supportive of him and understanding.
The movie studio also released a statement about the news, “We’re very sorry that Gary Ross has chosen not to direct ‘Catching Fire.’ We were really looking forward to making the movie with him. He did an incredible job on the first film and we are grateful for his work. This will not be the end of our relationship, as we consider Ross to be part of the Lionsgate family and look forward to working with him in the future.”
The big worry about the tight production schedule came from Fox’s desire to make another X-Men film. “Hunger Games” star Jennifer Lawrence will have to finish “Catching Fire” production so she can reprise her role as the young Mystique. Fox agreed to push back shooting of their “X-Men: First Class” sequel to January 2013 but Ross felt the time allotted was not enough to produce the best work.
Many big budget book-to-movie adaptations have had problems with keeping directors throughout the franchise. The two most famous are of course the revolving door of “Harry Potter” directors and Summit’s “Twilight” director switch ups. Hopefully this switch from Ross to Lawrence will produce “Harry Potter”-like directorial success.
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