Gary Ross Confirms: I Am Not Directing 'Hunger Games' Sequel 'Catching Fire'

Sad news!
Premiere Of Lionsgate's
100 Days of 'Hunger Games'
Celebuzz's all-out guide to everything 'HG'! Read More »

In what will likely read like a twist straight out of a Suzanne Collins novel, Gary Ross confirmed late Tuesday evening that he will not direct Catching Fire, the sequel to the mega-blockbuster movie The Hunger Games.

In a statement obtained by Deadline, Ross expressed his condolences, citing the sequel's "fixed and tight production schedule" as his reason for not signing onto the project.

"I loved making The Hunger Games – it was the happiest experience of my professional life," Ross said. "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."

"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," he added.

Lionsgate, the studio that produced the first Hunger Games movie, also expressed disappointment in Ross' decision, saying:

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.

Sad news, indeed -- though it's certainly not the first time that this has happened to a mega-popular franchise; The Twilight Saga, for example, was directed by four different people over the span of four years: Catherine Hardwicke, in 2008 (Twilight); Chris Weitz, in 2009 (New Moon); David Slade, in 2010; and Oscar winner Bill Condon, in 2011 and 2012, respectively (Breaking Dawn: Parts I & II). The Harry Potter films also had a number of directors, from Chris Columbus to, finally, David Yates.

Still, given the glowing reviews The Hunger Games received upon its release on March 23 (the film currently holds a healthy 85 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes), not to mention its record-breaking performance at the box office ($306 million, domestically, and counting), it's hard not to see this as a missed opportunity for Gary Ross, the man behind such hit movies as Pleasantville and the Oscar-nominated Seabiscuit.

In the meantime, there's plenty of time left to find a replacement for Gary Ross. As Celebuzz reported last August, Catching Fire won't hit theaters until Nov. 22, 2013.

Read Gary Ross' full statement below:

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.

What do you think, HG fans: Did Gary Ross make the right call? Or was the perfect fit for Catching Fire?

 

Discuss

Default avatar
  • Vatsal Patel
    Vatsal Patel

    I am sad to see him leave but, how will the next director feel, when Ross thinks he did not have enough time. I just want the movie to stay true to the book even if the movie takes till March 2014.

  • Laura
    Laura

    I'm not sad... With Harry Potter the directors were constantly changing, and the movies only got better!

  • Alex
    Alex

    Oh Christ! There's a sequel?

  • Cherry
    Cherry

    My friend's step-mother makes $87 an hour on the internet. She has been without work for six months but last month her payment was $16683 just working on the internet for a few hours. Read more on this site.... g00dotme/7k

  • Jenn
    Jenn

    I'm campaigning for Kathryn Bigelow to direct Catching Fire... She would make it the best ever. Real.