Now that Gary Ross, the filmmaker behind the blockbuster hit The Hunger Games, has officially announced that he will not be returning to direct Catching Fire (or Hunger Games 2, if you will), we’ve come up a list of five possible directors who could successfully helm Catching Fire. We evaluated our picks according to two basic criteria: who would likely say yes to the job, and if they are even available to direct this massive project.

Of course, whomever is behind this great undertaking should make sure to follow our 5 Tips for Making Catching Fire.

The Upside: Debra Granik earned an Oscar nomination for her Winter’s Bone screenplay. That film also helped earn Hunger Games star  Jennifer Lawrence an Oscar nod and helped make the little-known actress into a star.  The world of Bones is eerily familiar to some of the districts in The Hunger Games and Granik’s earlier work with Lawrence could make this a perfect match-up.

The Downside: Or not. Granik doesn’t have the credibility or the experience of Ross, who directed critically-acclaimed films like Pleasantville and Seabiscuit and who wrote the screenplays for Dave and Big. And Bone, while beloved by critics, was as really small movie.  Maybe Fire would be too much, too soon, for the young director.

The Verdict: If she relied on many of the Games‘ producers, Granik could recreate the world that Ross envisioned, but her short resume may make her ineligible to undertake such a massive project.

The Upside: David Slade has the experience necessary to direct a large-scale blockbuster. He previously brought us The Twilight Saga: Eclipse, so he knows a lot about taking the reins of a major franchise and trying to bring a bestselling– and beloved–  YA book to life.

The Downside: The Twilight series? Although Eclipse – according to Rotten Tomatoes – was more respected by critics than many of the other Twilight films, it still doesn’t won’t look good to the masses of Hunger Games fans who have no love for Twilight. Nevermind the fact that Slade actually has quality edgier fare like Hard Candy and 30 Days of Night on his resume…

The Verdict: Slade would be a good, but not an outstanding choice. If he was selected, one hopes he would bring the serious substance of Suzanne Collins’ books to the screen.

The Upside: Patty Jenkins was previously scheduled to direct Thor 2, until plans between Marvel Studios and the Monster director hit a snag. However, the fact that she was attached to the project shows that she may have the credibility to take on a major motion picture.

The Downside: The details of the Thor dispute are still unclear. Her IMDB.com resume notes that Jenkins has directed episodes of Arrested Development, Entourage and The Killing but her biggest work to date is Monster, which likely won’t prepare Jenkins for working on a highly-anticipated big-budget blockbuster.

The Verdict: Marvel’s original support for Jenkins shows that she might be ready to helm a blockbuster. If the break-up between Jenkins and the studio was mutual, she could be the perfect choice to take on the complex characters and emotions in this series of books.

The Upside: Sanders knows what it’s like to try to reinvent another person’s story. His new film Snow White and the Hunstman seems like an intriguing look at a character (Snow White) that we are already so familiar with. The special effects look exciting and the movie looks incredibly dark and ominous. Maybe Saunders would be the perfect fit for Catching Fire.

The Downside: That being said, few people have seen Snow White and the Huntsman. The trailers are impressive, but the final product remains to be seen. Would Hunger Games fans be willing to give up this important sequel to a director with so little experience?

The Verdict: Sanders could be a great filmmaker and SWATH could be a great film. But right now, it’s too soon to judge what he’s capable of…

The Upside: Rupert Wyatt has experience rejuvenating a beloved series of films. Rise of the Planet of the Apes was enjoyed by critics and moviegoers alike, and the young director ably proved his abilities and showed that a special effects-laden film could be both engaging and exciting.

The Downside: Like many of the directors on this list, Wyatt has little experience to speak of. IMDB.com lists him as the director of three regular movies and a short film. Apes was really good, but does that mean Wyatt is capable of taking on yet another beloved franchise?

The Verdict: Wyatt knows how to create great characters and how to stage an uprising. If the studio is willing to give him Catching Fire, he could further prove his talent as a young filmmaker on the rise.

Regardless of who directs Catching Fire, the film is likely to become a massive blockbuster. However, what Ross brought to The Hunger Games helped make the movie as successful as it was with critics and moviegoers alike. One hopes that the next director can make a film that both honors the subject material and expands upon it.

Here, again, is our list of 5 directors who could helm Catching Fire:

  • Debra Granik (Winter’s Bone)
  • David Slade (Eclipse, 30 Days of Night)
  • Patty Jenkins (Monster) 
  • Rupert Sanders (Snow White and the Huntsman)
  • Rupert Wyatt (Rise of the Planet of the Apes) 

Who do you think should direct Catching Fire? Let me know your picks in the comments, and as always, make sure you follow me on Twitter @johnhanlon.