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Gary Ross Turns Down ‘The Hunger Games’ Sequel (For Real This Time)

Gary Ross
Lionsgate

After last week’s announcement that Gary Ross was out of ‘The Hunger Games‘ sequel ‘Catching Fire,’ word came quickly that his demise was greatly exaggerated. But now we’ve heard that this matter has been settled and that Ross is out for good this time. I don’t think there’s a take back option here. Gary Ross is not directing ‘Catching Fire.’

Ross gave Deadline Hollywood his statement and what he says is that they aren’t going to give him enough time to return for ‘Catching Fire.’ Here’s the money quote:

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.

He then goes on to praise his experience making the first film. He’s not burning bridges, though he doesn’t leave the sequel looking super-promising either. Whether he’s being honest or this is simply a monetary issue disguised as a conflict of scheduling is left for people to guestimate.But as the follow-up books are considered less compelling that the original, it’s possible Ross saw making the sequels as a lose-lose proposition without a huge payout, where if he leaves the franchise now he has the clout of having directed a film that made $300 Million domestically in 17 days.

Here’s Lionsgate’s statement:

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.

Notice how everyone in Hollywood loves each other? It’s truly magical that. But who will direct the follow up? It’s quite possible that Paul Haggis – who has a good relationship with the studio – is on the shortlist, at least according to Ain’t-it-Cool’s Mr. Beaks. But with a shoot that’s fast approaching, expect the new director to be signed in the next week or two.

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