Huge news on ‘The Hunger Games’ front: Gary Ross will not return to direct the upcoming sequel ‘Catching Fire.' So what happened? Let's find out...

This has been rumored recently, with reports suggesting that Lionsgate and Summit were contemplating passing the torch to a new filmmaker as the lucrative franchise moves on to the second book in Suzanne Collins’ series. But The Playlist, which breaks the news, suggests that it was Ross who gave his notice, saying that the director didn’t have “the burning desire” to tell the next chapter of Katniss Everdeen’s fight.

Money might have been an issue, though The Playlist really says it came down to Ross not wanting to repeat himself or commit the time and energy it would take to follow up on the massively successful launch to this popular film franchise.

The Playlist even says that Ross knows what his next project will be, and that it will “earn him a better payday” than he would have received for directing ‘Catching Fire.’ I’m surprised at that, unless he was being low-balled by the ‘Games’ team. But Ross’ fourth directorial effort will be something that he wrote, and I’m sure we’ll hear more about it in the coming months.

In the meantime, a search begins for the coveted gig of directing ‘Catching Fire.’ Whomever comes in basically inherits a cast and crew ready to dive back into Panem. Lionsgate/Summit has said they want a Thanksgiving 2013 release for ‘Fire,’ so expect a hire shortly. Do you have any suggestions? Or do you think ‘The Hunger Games’ can survive and thrive, whomever sits in the director’s chair?