Gary Ross is (Officially) Not Directing ‘Catching Fire’

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

A few weeks ago a non-3D, non-sequel film broke several box office records when The Hunger Games splashed into theaters and positive reception. Now, Lionsgate has a brand new mega movie franchise to work with over the next few years – but they’ll be doing so without one key player: director Gary Ross.

Ross directed and co-wrote The Hunger Games adaptation but over the last few days, it’s been a bit of a back and forth on whether or not he would return for the sequel, Catching Fire. As it turns out, he’s not. For real this time.

The Playlist did the groundwork on breaking this scoop last week and they were right all along, first reporting that Ross would not return to helm Catching Fire. Some other outlets claimed it was an issue of money, but The Playlist explained it was more about motivation and creativity. Ross simply did his part and wanted to move on to something else.

Another outlet later claimed Ross and Lionsgate were still in negotiations and that the Seabiscuit director hadn’t actually pulled himself away from the project just yet. As we’re learning now officially, Ross is out and here is his goodbye:

“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.

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.

I also cannot say enough about the people I worked with: Producer Nina Jacobson, a great collaborator and a true friend; the brilliant Suzanne Collins, who entrusted us with her most amazing and important story; the gifted and remarkable Jennifer Lawrence whose performance exceeded my wildest expectations, and the rest of the incredible cast, whom I am proud to call my friends.

To the fans I want to say thank you for your support your faith, your enthusiasm and your trust. Hard as this may be to understand I am trying to keep that trust with you. Thank you all. It’s been a wonderful experience.”

The Hunger Games is still leading the box office, and the sequel is already scheduled to begin shooting in a matter of months. It’s a fast schedule to meet quick deadlines, as Ross points out as a partial knock on rushed franchise films – something Lionsgate’s new acquisition in Summit Entertainment is all too familiar with (see: Twlight).

Lionsgate’s response:

“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.”

Now we can get back to speculating on potential replacement directors for Catching Fire.

Catching Fire sees the return of Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth and is currently scheduled to release in theaters November 22, 2013.

Follow Rob on Twitter @rob_keyes.

Source: The Playlist

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  1. Thanks Mr Ross for getting the franchise up and running , While i appritiete the work he put into The Hunger Games , the film didnt reach the hieghts i hoped it would , i am not saying it was a bad movie it was good just not great , i hope the next director can take it to the next level , Duncan Jones the clock is ticking = )

    • I totally agree with you although the helped get the name out there for the Hunger Games I think he could’ve done a way better job at it thought but I did very much enjoy the movie but not as much as I expected

  2. Although I am sad that he is not returning. They better find a replacement and quickly. And Lionsgate, if reading this, choose Steven Soderbergh

  3. I’m happy that Gary Ross helped bring The Hunger Games to the big screen and loved how dedicated he was to doing so. I applaud him for making a great film adaptation, and wish himn the best. Although I’m surprised he didn’t want to at least stay and produce Catching Fire or something.

    As for finding a new director, I just hope Lionsgate finds someone that is as dedicated to the source material as Ross was to The Hunger Games. There are directors that I would love to see take on Catching Fire and Mockingjay, but I think it’s important to have someone who has read the books and know what they want to do.

    Who I’d like to see direct Cathching Fire: Debra Granik or Rupert Wyatt
    Who I’d like to see direct Mockingjay: Kathryn Bigelow, Patty Jenkins or Duncan Jones

    • Duncan Jones or Breck Eisner for both.

      • What do people think of ron howard? Or tony scott

    • Excellent choices. Rupert Wyatt’s depiction of the Apes uprising was so good, I can totally see him replicating the same events in Panem. However, Academy Award Winner Kathryn Bigelow would produce a more visceral and dark Mockingjay.

  4. While his direction wasn’t perfect, over all I loved what Gary Ross did with The Hunger Games. However, I really, REALLY hope that Lionsgate doesn’t rush Catching Fire. I hope the studio cares a bit about quality (I’m sure the film crew does). Personally, I’m hoping for Alfonso Cuaron (as long as he reads the books). He could do something amazing with this series. I also honestly wouldn’t mind Brad Bird.

    • Didn’t he do the bad harry potter movie?

      • No, he did one of the best ones, Prisoner of Azkaban.

    • I’m behind this decision! Lionsgate should get Cuaron to take on the franchise!

      He gave us one of the best apocalyptic movies in recent years: Children of men. 😉

    • They ARE rushing it, that is what this Gary Ross just said! That’s why he doesn’t want to do it!

  5. Im very sad to hear this, he exceeded my expectations with this film. Oh well there’s nothing we can do to bring him back so I’m just hoping we get an awesome director with the passion Gary had for the project. here’s to hoping we get an amazing Catching Fire!

    BTW who would you guys get to direct it? Who would be your top choices for the sequel?

  6. Even tho I like when directors make a hole trilogy I am interested to see a new directors take…. expetially *SPOILER ALERT*

    Since its another games that will be competing in.
    Rickster as for realistic choiced id like duncan jones, kathryn bigelow and david fincher (only realistic cause he isn’t doing anything)
    Obviously id like christopher nolan to direct but that’s out of the question or even spielberg or peter jackson.

    • But there is a lot ofdirectors id approve of as long as its not m night shamalyan I’m fine haha

    • I love M. Night.. -.- well at least I loved all of his movies, before he started doing crap like the las airbender, but I actually like most of his early films. I dont think he would do a great job with catching fire, I think it lacks the weirdness he usually puts in his films.

  7. Liongate made a non-professional move by booking the date in advance, without consulting the director. There’s no better way to interpret Gary’s deliberate choice of words “fixed and tight” schedule. Now they need a competent replacement. Rupert Wyatt’s depiction of the Apes uprising was so good, I can totally see him replicating the same events in Panem. However, I think Academy Award Winner Kathryn Bigelow would produce a more visceral movie, and also bring upon the necessary darkness required for Mockingjay. Between these two, I think the person more passionate about the story-arc should get the position.

  8. Good news, can’t help but feeling that if he would’ve directed the whole series it’d be only slightly above average. Hopefully Lionsgate’ll pick someone along the lines of Duncan Jones because Catching Fire is a bloody awesome book

  9. How about Frank Darabont ?

  10. I am glad he is not coming back. Hopefully the next director can take this movie to a new level and get rid of the shaky cam.

  11. I am littarly shocked by this news ! But i hope they find a new director atleast half as good as Gary ! For me its like a character died in the hunger games becuase he was part of it ! the only 2 directors that truly did well on filming a book-series where Gary Ross with the hunger games and Peter Jackson with The lord of the rings !
    (sorry for bad english)

  12. From what I just read, this director is basically saying “I know you all enjoyed The Hunger Games, but under the current circumstances and restrictions placed on the production of Catching Fire, there is no way I can make this movie as good as the first one was, and therefore politely decline the opportunity to continue working on this franchise, as doing so would jeopardize my good standing as a director of high quality films. …In other words, it’s a rush job, and it’s gonna probably SUCK!”

  13. Well the delay in finding a new director might be advantageous to the film as long as the script can continue to move forward! But that’s just the thing, most directors worth their salt will want to put their personal stamp on the movie, that often means rewrites, which Lionsgate may not tolerate. At any rate we still don’t know what Lionsgate wants to do with this franchise beyond the natural “make-a-mint” off it. With a potential 2 billion dollar franchise I would think that they would be taking their time when it comes to crafting this adaptation. It’ll certainly be interesting to see how they handles this.

    Some top director that works like a machine will certainly be in for a nice payday, as long as they don’t burn out from the stress…

  14. I loved how Gary Ross made hunger games into a movie but i was a little disappointed at the end of the movie. I feel it was too rushed and left out some important parts of the ending that would have been nice to see in the film. I would have love to see the hospital scenes and the part where katniss and peeta walked along the tracks and talked about there relationship.

  15. Gary Ross did a fantastic job on the first film, shaky camera work and all. I’m excited to see what kind of things the new director, Francis Lawrence, can do but I’m sort of nervous. Will he do as good of a job as Ross? I guess we’ll just find out.

  16. i am so sorry gary. he made the great movie of the year i wish he could make CATCHING FIRE. i hope that they find a great director like GARY

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  19. Yes! I’m so glad Gary Ross is not directing catching fire! In my opinion, he did a terrible job. Shaky camera, madge cut and Avox, Gary Ross did a pretty bad job in my opinion! So happy!

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