Director Gary Ross officially out of HUNGER GAMES sequel, CATCHING FIRE

I wonder what Catherine Hardwicke thinks about all this?

In a move that strangely echoes that of the TWILIGHT director who also parted ways with the franchise despite its enormous success, Gary Ross has officially announced his departure from THE HUNGER GAMES series. The follow-up to Lionsgate's rather successful film, CATCHING FIRE, is due to be released in November of 2013. Apparently, it's just not enough time for Ross to do what he needs to do the way that he needs to do it.

In a statement released yesterday, Ross acknowledged rumors that had been swirling for weeks regarding his possible departure.

"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."

Lionsgate followed Ross' announcement with its own statement. “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.”

To date, THE HUNGER GAMES has grossed over $300 million and remains comfortably atop the box office in North America. Now, speculation can begin on who is available and able to replace Ross - hasty decisions, considering that the scheduled release date is 19 months away. In addition to much of the same cast CATCHING FIRE does have one other interesting name attached to it; Oscar-winning writer Simon Beaufoy (SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE) is currently writing the next installment which focuses on the story of heroine Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark post-games.

For his part, Ross remained classy and professional in. Here's some more from his parting statement:

"I loved making THE HUNGER GAMES – it was the happiest experience of my professional life. Lionsgate was supportive of me in a manner that few directors ever experience in a franchise: they empowered me to make the film I wanted to make and backed the movie in a way that requires no explanation beyond the remarkable results. And contrary to what has been reported, negotiations with Lionsgate have not been problematic. They have also been very understanding of me through this difficult decision."

Source LA Times


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