Francis Lawrence Tapped to Direct ‘Hunger Games’ Sequel ‘Catching Fire’

Published 3 years ago by , Updated July 24th, 2013 at 9:50 am,

In March, the highly-anticipated blockbuster The Hunger Games hit theaters, breaking box office records and making mega-stars of its young cast. As both a box office triumph and a critically-acclaimed movie, excitement began to build for its sequel, Catching Fire. But fans were caught off guard last week when Gary Ross, the The Hunger Games director officially declared that he would not helm the sequel.

Since then, speculation and rumors have grown about possible replacements. At the time, we here at Screen Rant compiled our own list of five possible Catching Fire directors. In recent days, a short list of potential directors was released showing that acclaimed directors like  David Cronenberg (Eastern Promises) and Alfonso Cuaron (Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban) were top contenders for the position.

But now, the news is official: Francis Lawrence – who previously brought us Constantine, I Am Legend and Water for Elephants – has been chosen as the director of Catching Fire.

The ultimate decision reportedly came down to a major scheduling conflict. According to (who broke the story) Lionsgate wanted to start production of the new film late in August, and Bennett Miller – the Moneyball director who was the other major contender for the position – wanted them to push it back. That put Lawrence in the driver’s seat and at the helm of what seems will be a huge film franchise.

The choice of Lawrence is definitely a major change from what many industry experts have been speculating. He certainly has experience working with big stars like Keanua Reeves, Will Smith and Reese Witherspoon – but none of his films has been of the same magnitude and scope as directing the second chapter in a (newly) beloved franchise. But it should be noted that Lawrence has more experience behind the camera than just those three films. He previously made a name for himself as a director of music videos, where he worked alongside several prominent, high-profile singers. If you can say nothing else about his films, they definitely have a sharp and crisp visual composition – which could bode well for Catching Fire.

One of the major differences between Lawrence and Ross will likely be the focus on the screenplay. Before he was chosen to helm The Hunger Games, Ross was an Oscar-nominated screenwriter who had worked on the scripts of Seabiscuit, Dave and Big. And when it came time to do The Hunger Games he worked closely with author Suzanne Collins in adapting her bestseller for the big screen. It remains to be seen if Lawrence will be that involved, or leave writing duties solely to Slumdog Millionaire screenwriter Simon Beaufoy.

Catching Fire arrives in theaters in late 2013.

Follow John on Twitter @johnhanlon.


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  1. meh.

  2. There are worse choices. I can’t really complain.

  3. Yeah not a horrible choice but not my favorite

  4. I hate the stupid rush hollywood seems to be in… why not wait and make it good, instead of rushing and possibly making a crap movie??

    • Fox and Lionsgate came to an agreement that XFC2 will be starting production in January. This gives Lionsgate five months to shoot the movie.

    • As if M. Night has a better track record? Give me a break! I wasn’t happy to hear about Lawrence getting the Director’s seat, but good God, M. Night?!

      Constantine was a fine movie, entertaining and fun. I am Legend sucked, but only because of the ending, the rest of the movie was just fine.

      • It was a joke..:P

      • I rewatched “I am Legend”. What I previously thought was “ok” turned out to be really FLAT. As flat as a peeta bread. The only moving scene was when he killed his dog. Period. There was very little emotion, and too many still cameras fixed in place. Compare that to Ross’ Katniss and Prim moments, for instance, and there’s a completely new level of emotion here. Let’s not forget that 90% of Lawrence’s experience is in making shallow 4-minute video clips with oversaturated colors and lots of dancing.

    • They want the movie shot in a short period of time and from what some of the articles said they didn’t want to get up off more money for Ross, so they got someone who was willing to do what they want for the money. As much as fans love this property I doubt the rushed working conditions and probable money issues would be selling points to most directors who weren’t hungry and/or had something else to do.

      I find it funny that Fox and their X-movie had a hand in all of this, the franchise that can’t keep itself on track has now bogged down another film. Question is will this happen again if Fox tries to squeeze a third X-Men movie out and it conflicts with the other Hunger Games sequels? And will Lionsgate keep playing musical directors like most franchises seem to do these days ?

  5. Seems fair enough. Btw you got and ‘a’ more than needed with Keanu’a’ Reeves.

  6. What the…???? I mean c’mon seriously I have a bad feeling with this…
    but now we have to wait to see what can :-/

  7. Oh c’mon…just give the man a chnce. I can only imagine the pressure on Mr. Lawrence; let’s look at the positives: Lawrence has extensive experience with action films, Simon Beaufoy is writing the sceenplay along with Suzanne Collins and all the pricipals are locked in. Jennifer Lawrence is an amazing actress and a true professional and will give another incredible performance. I have a feeling that not much will be messed with from the first film…emotionally speaking except that there will be more action and for “Catching Fire” that’s extremely important. Let everyone just do their jobs and look forward to the film.

  8. And that’s “chance” not “chnce” and “principlas” not “pricipals”…need more coffee.

  9. I am Legend was not bad at all… Had many beautiful shots… But pretty much action-free. Catching-fire is as action-packed as it gets. Also, the events are too much to handle, unlike I am Legend which moves at a painfully slow pace. I really hope he doesn’t screw this one up… It’s easily the best book in the trilogy.

  10. Who cares who directs either way its gonna make a ton of cash like they want. Plus u should be more worried about the amount of time they are giving it to film

  11. But now, the news is official: Francis Lawrence – who previously brought us Constantine,

  12. One thing I’m hoping Lawrence can bring to the films that I felt Ross couldn’t is a greater history with the characters. Ross did a decent job of interpreting the Hunger Games novel into a film, but I felt that by the end of the movie, I had no idea who any of the characters were. Rue’s death scene was sentimental and very much how I pictured it in the book, and yet I was not sad in the least with her death. Being a great fan of all three books, I must say I fell in love with the series because of the character development I saw progress throughout the trilogy. The Hunger Games motion picture did not feature any of that. A fix in the graphics would be a great improvement as well. Seriously, that fire was pretty bad…

  13. So let’s compare what Lawrence can bring compared to Ross. Here’s the plus side to Lawrence doing the move. The visuals will be spectacular and it will eliminate the annoying shaking of the camera when the fight scenes happen. I think that was my only drawback towards the movie. There were too many close-ups and the fight scenes seemed shaky at best. Lawrence can improve that portion. The drawback is that were Lawrence does great visuals he lacks in proper adaptations. Ross brings the screenplay to life. He works with the author to properly bring what’s in the book to the screen and not miss too much details. His detail work on the screenplay is excellent. Ross is the better pick because of this. Lawrence does worry me, although the scenery/action scenes will be well done I worry about everything else. Does he leave out a lot of details? Will the movie drag out, i.e. I am Legend? Will the movie look good on paper but seem horrible on screen, i.e. Constantine? Not too happy about this move. It would be different if Ross and Lawrence were working hand in hand but this is making me nervous.

  14. I don’t even know what to say… let’s just hope for the best.