Posted by Mark Bridge On April - 11 - 2012 0 Comment

With the massive success of The Hunger Games, development of the sequel Catching Fire was a foregone conclusion.  Everyone in the cast were optioned to return so the only one in question was the film’s director Gary Ross.  There have been constant back and forth on whether he would direct the sequels.  Now in an official statement from Ross, it is now confirmed that he will not be returning to directing duties.  He states the rushed production and release schedule for dropping out.  The film is set to go into production this fall for a November 22, 2013 release.

Here is the full statement courtesy of Deadline:

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.

A similar situation happened with Twilight when director Catherine Hardwicke dropped out of directing New Moon when the production for the second film was so close to the release of the first.  Since then, each entry in the franchise was directed by different filmmakers.  It’s safe to assume that Lionsgate will adopt a similar strategy going forward for the other to installments of The Hunger Games saga.

Lionsgate released this statement in 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.

The search for a new directer will be number one priority in order to make their intended release date.  Let the speculation begin on who will get the job.

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