Gary Ross Passes on Directing ‘Hunger Games’ Sequel, ‘Catching Fire’? [UPDATED]

Published 2 years ago by , Updated February 15th, 2014 at 8:48 pm,

[Update: It's now official and Gary Ross won't be back for the sequel. Read on...]

It came as somewhat of a surprise when, earlier this week, word leaked out that Hunger Games co-writer/director Gary Ross had not yet been locked down for the sequel, Catching Fire – not only because of the widespread positive response to (and massive box office returns for) the first HG movie adaptation, but also because Ross had already begun to discuss his tentative plans for shooting the followup.

Reports are now in that Ross has selected to not be involved with Catching Fire after all. That puts Lionsgate in somewhat of a precarious position, as the studio wants production on the sequel to get underway by this upcoming September – meaning that the search for a replacement helmer will have to be a relatively quick one.

The Playlist says that Ross’ decision to pass on Catching Fire stems from a desire to press ahead with a different, original project that he’s more passionate about – one which, ironically, is expected to snag him a bigger payday than what Ross might’ve fetched for directing the second Hunger Games flick. Still, by all accounts, money was not the primary motivating factor for Ross’ departure.

[UPDATE: Deadline's is reporting that Ross has not yet "formally withdrawn" from Catching Fire. The filmmaker is currently on vacation, so there presumably won't be an official confirmation either way until he returns to work.]

[UPDATE 2: Ross is officially not directing Catching Fire.]

Truth be told, Lionsgate had already taken precautions for an event like this. The studio recruited Oscar-winning screenwriter Simon Beaufoy (of Slumdog Millionaire and 127 Hours fame) to start working on the Catching Fire script, back when Ross was still busy working the promotional circuit for Hunger Games. Hence, the ball’s already off and rolling on this tentpole production.

Couple that with Fox’s newly announced 2013 start date for filming on X-Men: First Class 2 - which will free up Jennifer Lawrence to reprise her role as Katniss Everdeen in Catching Fire this fall – and (for now) it doesn’t appear that Ross leaving the Hunger Games sequel will trip up the film too much on its way down the production pipeline.

catching fire simon beaufoy Gary Ross Passes on Directing Hunger Games Sequel, Catching Fire? [UPDATED]

Fan reaction to the news concerning Ross’ vacating the director’s chair on Catching Fire will probably be somewhat mixed, as far the immediate response goes. On the one hand, most people seem to agree that he did an admirable job of translating Suzanne Collins’ popular dystopian sci-fi thriller into cinematic form; on the other hand, some of Ross’ stylistic choices with Hunger Games (specifically, the disorienting shaky cam/editing approach) left many viewers feeling disgruntled.

That said: a directorial switch-up can be very tricky when it comes to franchise fare – especially when studios trade in a respectable filmmaker who leaves a recognizable artistic fingerprint on the series (see: David Slade with The Twilight Saga: Eclipse or Bryan Singer with X2) for someone who delivers more of a generic take on the property (see: Bill Condon with Breaking Dawn or Brett Ratner with X-Men: The Last Stand). Suffice it to say, Lionsgate is gambling that it can avoid making a similar mistake with the Hunger Games franchise, by letting Ross go.

We’ll be sure to let you know when a replacement director for Ross on Catching Fire has been found. In the meantime, be sure to check out our Catching Fire: 5 Things The Hunger Games Sequel Needs To Do post, for our own suggestions on what the sequel’s director ought to do in order to improve on Ross’ first HG film.

Catching Fire releases in theaters November 22, 2013.

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Source: The Playlist

TAGS: catching fire, the hunger games

48 Comments

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  1. Since Simon Beaufoy is writing the screenplay, it is very likely for Danny Boyle to direct the sequel. He would be a perfect fit for the project. If not, I’m hoping for Alfonso Cuaron or Guillermo del Toro.

    • Boyle would be a promising replacement, but I believe he’s going to be busy for most of 2012 (the same goes for del Toro).

      Cuaron would be an interesting choice as well, but I’m not really sure what he’s up to right now…

    • Danny Boyle would be amazing. I’m in the minority that felt the movie didn’t live up to the book at al, but I’m looking forward to the sequel. Hopefully it will be better paced, have character build-up, and the Capitol won’t look empty and green-screened.

  2. I am I the only person who doesn’t want someone who directs fantasy movies for a living? I mean, Hunger Games is pure science fiction. I heard that a suggestion for directing was David Yates. Although he is a good director, his style IMHO isn’t the style that should be used for Catching Fire. I think Steven Soderbergh (was second unit director for The Hunger Games), Doug Liman,or Kathryn Bigelow should direct.

    • Not david yates or other directors bec. The movie will jumbled it’s story like others are not good because of coarse if gary ross use a that place in the movie, the others will find other land or place because they don’t know where to find that place what gary ross chose

  3. Duncan Jones would be a great choice , this guy gets the blend between SCI-FI and character perfectly ( Moon , Source Code )

    • Yes! I thought I was the only one. He is an up in coming director

    • Agreed.

    • Wow, nice choice. Jones would do an exceptional job with character drama and story which is what I hear builds on in Catching Fire…and might I say I too liked Quantum.

      • With the pacing of the next to books i think Tony Scott would be great.

  4. I really am sad about this.

    I really liked Ross’ style, and appreciate continuity throughout a series. Harry Potter is a perfect example of style changes across films. It takes away from the larger narrative, I think.

    Compare that to Batman Begins, TDK, where one director is allowed to take it the whole way.

    • If all the Harry Potter movies had a Chris Columbus vibe to them, it would have been unbearable. The HP franchise did just fine with its directors; each director they brought in ‘grew’ the movies in maturity and seriousness in a similar way that JK Rowling did as a writer. Keeping Yates on for the last few also made sense, as the last few of her books had a very similar vibe (especially the final two).

      Batman Begins and TDK is an example of one director working, but two movies is a small sample size. Wait for the third to see if it’s as good. To be honest, I’m not getting good vibes. As much as I like Tom Hardy, I think Bane’s going to fall flat as a villain.

      Plus, there are plenty of examples in which a third film in a series by the same director has flopped badly, most infamously The Godfather Part 3.

      Other examples of when a fresh director should have been brought in:

      Spiderman 3
      Star Wars Eps 1-3
      Indiana Jones 4

      I’d put things like The Matrix and Pirates of the Carribean there, but the reality is those sequels just shouldn’t have been made. Yet, they retained the same directors.

      Other examples where new directors gave the franchise new energy:

      Mission Impossible
      Star Trek (JJ Abrams being only *one* of the films where a new director helped save the franchise — Wrath of Khan is another perfect example.)
      Star Wars (Empire Strikes Back was the best of them all — and NOT directed by Lucas)
      The Swedish version of the Millenium trilogy (ie Girl with the Dragon Tattoo)
      Blade
      Aliens
      Toy Story

      So, yeah, there’s always the Peter Jacksons of the world, with some life-long goal and vision to put together a trilogy or series that wouldn’t have worked (at least as well) without them… but more often than not, I’d say studios are better off getting new directors for each film.

      In fact, I’d say the only way it’s good to stick with the same person is if that person developed the project and had it in mind to do all of the movies from the start, or had a singular vision of a character or universe ie Lord of the Rings, Desperado, Kevin Smith’s Jersey Trilogy, Mad Max, etc.

      • You almost have to put an asterisk by Peter Jackson though because he filmed ALL three movies at once. That probably helped a great deal.

        • Yeah, but he really didn’t. They did the basic principal photography all in a row, but it wasn’t all wrapped up and done at one time by any means. They came back and did multiple re-shoots and pickups and of course the post-production lasted longer than the actual filming.

  5. This story has not been confirmed by Lionsgate or Gary Ross yet. This is still a rumor. But if it turns out to be true, I just want a director that has read the books, loved them and can build upon Gary’s vision without throwing it out completely.

  6. How about Sam Mendes? Road to Perdition, American Beauty, this year’s Skyfall.

  7. I actually think Rupart Sanders would be a good choice and even though he already directed a Twilight movie I think Davide Slade would be good too.

  8. They should get Steven Soderbergh to take over (He was the 2nd Unit Director on the first one, so it makes perfect sense).

    • That’s what I was thinking, to have Steven Soderbergh to direct. I like how Gary Ross approached The Hunger Games and how passionate he was in making it into a good film. He succeeded, which leaves me worried that whoever Lionsgate chooses to direct Catching Fire won’t be so keen on taking the same approach as Ross did.

      I’m not really sure who I would think could be a good choice to direct. Kathryn Bigelow maybe?

  9. Good news. Not a fan.
    Soderbergh is a great choice. Duncan Jones is cool too, I just don’t think he will accept it – all of his movies so far have been original.

    Excited to see who will direct it.

  10. This is disapinting news. Ross yad just the right touch for the material and I was hoping he would film the entire trilogy.
    Of the names mentioned, only Duncan Jones interests me.

  11. If LIONSGATE isn’t a collective of IDIOTS they will be wise enough to select a director with a history of high quality creations on his/her resume, and not just take a chance on some stylistic music video director to save money. YOU’LL LOSE MORE MONEY IN THE LONG RUN BEING CHEAP! IDIOTS!!!

  12. I haven’t seen the movie, but it’s odd that a movie that has done crazy box office returns and has gotten good reviews couldn’t keep the same director for the follow-up. The fact that this article mentions things like Ross wanting to work on another project he is more “passionate” about that also might pay better might be the story between the lines.

    If cash was or is an issue then it will be interesting to see who they get to do the job for the same or less money as Ross, which means the odds of them getting an A-list director are slim.

  13. My choices for a new director are: Steven Soderbergh, Kathryn Bigelow, or Christopher Nolan. I think all of them could have a good input on the trilogy, and I think I would be comfortable seeing either them in the director’s chair. With Soderbergh being Second-Unit Director for The Hunger Games, he might already be interested. I liked what I saw with Bigelow’s The Hurt Locker. And seeing what Christopher Nolan has done with Inception and his Batman films, he could possibly make Catching Fire even better than Hunger Games.

    • I actually think Bigelow would be better as director when Mockingjay comes around. Also there’s no way Nolan would direct Catching Fire. His price would be way too high for Lionsgate to even consider. What about Matt reeves or Neil Blomkamp?

      • I second Neil Blomkamp. He did it all with District 9: great character development, an interesting take on sci-fi, action scenes that were insanely fun to watch, a solid understanding of symbolism, etc. Good thinking, sir.

        • As much as id love nolan its physically impossible

  14. I’m upset that this is happening. I loved the guy and wanted him to continue! GAH! But I heard it isn’t confirmed by the director OR Lionsgate so… :/

  15. I thought they already made a Battle royale sequel? And it sucked! O wait they are talking about The Hunger Games….Wich is basically a rip off of Battle Royale (Great book and movie…The first of course)

  16. I didn’t like Ross’ editing style and shaky cam, it felt so amateurish. It was so bad that I couldn’t bring myself to a second viewing. A change would do the franchise good

    • I went to a 2nd viewing… fell asleep

    • definalty agree. I could not stand the shaky cam style shooting.

  17. I just hope that they keep the whole indie style. My friend and I were talking, and we both agreed that the indie style fits The Hunger Games because, it’s notams polished franchise like some others out there

  18. I vote for that Chris Nolan guy.

    • You’re joking right? Nolan would (if he ever directed this) would probably create new characters left and write. And besides, he would probably cast every person in Inception in the sequel.

    • Never going to happen, and honestly, it probably shouldn’t.

      • He wouldn’t do it cause for 1 its a sequal and 2 he has more creative ideas. The series is beneath hum just like fincher or spielberg wouldn’t ever touch this series

  19. I hope he’s out. Compared to the book, the movie BLEW!
    The whole shaky-camera thing added nothing to the movie and all the not-so-subtle omissions were a real let down.

    I vote someone else give it a shot..

    • Obviously, I was making a joke.

  20. I wouldnt care much if the director changed, i didnt quite like how the first hunger games was done, especially the shaky camera effect… but I think if you started a trilogy with one director you should try to keep him on the project as much as possible, for the sake of the movie, but it would still be interesting to see how someone else directs this.

  21. To let everyone know, they used some of the shaky camera for Katniss’ POV. And also, if they used the steady camera, it would have been rated R

    • so they used the shaky camera effect so we woulndt see what was happening in order to make it PG13??

      • Pretty much

        • Um … what? I’m not buying this for a second. To let YOU know, directors have ways of implying violence without actually showing it. And if that’s honestly the excuse they’re gonna pull for such shoddy action filming then it just goes to show how inadequate of a director this guy was anyway.

          • Yes, because an inadequate director gets his movies to become critically and commercially claimed. I’m sure if you directed this movie, it would ran into the ground.

            He used the shaky camera because we were able to see some stuff that would have made it Rated R for using a steady camera. Like the girl who shall not be named that got killed when those trackerjackers got dumped on her? If they used a steady camera, say goodbye PG-13, and hello to R

            • Did I ever say and/or imply that I could do a better job? No. I’m just saying I’ve seen many other directors do it much better.

              I guess my “inadequate of a director” comment was a little over the top, considering he has directed good movies in the past, but none of which were any kind of action movies, and from the shaky camera catastrophe in The Hunger Games it just made it seem like he didn’t have a solid idea of what he was doing when it came to filming action sequences.

              I understand what you’re saying about why they supposedly filmed it that way, but I’m just not buying it. As I said, directors have ways of implying violence without actually showing it – look at the The Dark Knight, or LOTR – both PG-13 movies have plenty of violence in them but it’s done in ways where the audience gets the idea without having to watch the bloodbath. Using a chaotic filming system isn’t the only way a director can film a violent PG-13 movie.

              It was simply a stylized thing – a stylized thing that, from most of what I’ve read – didn’t work. You don’t have to MAKE something in a confusing way to have it FEEL confusing.

              • Well it was confusing enough for everyone with that damn camera moving all the time… just sayin’. If you want my opinion he did a decent job, cus he was attached to 90% of what happened in the book. But, he did do a lousy job in the cinematography department.

  22. I’m not sure that the movie succeeded or failed because of Gary Ross. I’m sure most of the people who went to see the movie have no clue who Gary Ross is, couldn’t pick him out a lineup if there was only one person in the lineup. His leaving the sequel is only a problem because they have to find a replacement. I’m sure his reputation has increased certainly and he has more opportunities now. But this franchise is certainly similar to Twilight and Harry Potter in that the directors are replaceable. Other than Alfonso Cuaron, what director in any of these franchise adaptations of smash hit book series has really put their own creative and artistic stamp on a film?

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