[SHOCKING UPDATE! GARY ROSS IS NOT DIRECTING THE SEQUEL CATCHING FIRE!!! FIND OUT WHY - HERE]
The movie adaptation of The Hunger Games is an undisputed box office success, with a record-setting opening and over $350 million at the worldwide box office. One would think that with such a high level of achievement, Hunger Games director Gary Ross would be a lock for the in-development sequel, Catching Fire, but this apparently not the case.
We now have reports coming in that Ross in is pivotal negotiations with Lionsgate, the studio behind The Hungers Games, and that his return is far from being a sure thing.
To understand this situation, you first need some context:
As stated, Lionsgate owns The Hunger Games movies, and recently the studio merged with another small studio: Summit Entertainment, which owns The Twilight Saga movies. Summit had great financial success with Twilight in large part because of smart financial management; locking the principal cast into manageable contracts for each successive film, and (here's the part to note) switching directors between each installment of the series. Therein lies the issue that Lionsgate now faces.
THR reports Gary Ross is seeking an increased payday for Catching Fire. Negotiations between Ross and Lionsgate for the firsts Hunger Games were apparently tense, and the Oscar-nominated director took just $3 million to both direct and co-write the script. Given Ross' prestige and his heavy involvement with crafting HG, $3 million is really not that much (at least, in Hollywood terms). The studio didn't seal a sequel deal with Ross before Hunger Games debuted in theaters; its huge opening has only strengthened Ross' bargaining position - especially if he's once again expected to pull double duty, aiding Slumdog Millionaire writer Simon Beaufoy with the Catching Fire script.
[caption id="attachment_159236" align="aligncenter" width="570" caption="Ross with Hutcherson and Lawrence on 'Hunger Games' set"][/caption]
Both the Harry Potter and Twilight movie franchises made it a policy to switch directors often, resulting in some quality films (Alfonso Cuaron's Prisoner of Azkaban Potter film; David Slade's Eclipse) and some not-so-quality installments (David Yates' much-derided Order of the Phoenix; Chris Weitz reprehensible New Moon). The Hunger Games could roll the dice on a new director and could, conceivably, end up better for it (that is, if you ask those who were put-off by Ross' close-quarter, shaky-cam shooting style). On the other hand, the studio could end up with a generic director who might not be so bold in his stylistic choices, but doesn't really impress all that much, either (see: the directors of both Clash and Wrath of the Titans).
The cast is, of course, already locked for sequels (of which three are currently planned), so fans can breathe easy that their favorite Hunger Games characters will be back, at least.
We'll keep you updated on the status of Catching Fire as news comes to light.