Regardless of what showbiz sites might report, there’s been no formal announcement on Gary Ross’ withdrawal from helming the sequel to The Hunger Games. On a family vacation, Ross has been unable to verify or deny the rumor mill gossip.
There’s also a studio standoff between Lionsgate and 20th Century Fox as it pertains to starlet Jennifer Lawrence. Lawrence, who played the heroine Katniss in The Hunger Games, is set to reprise her role as Mystique in the sequel to X-Men: First Class. At the time of doing the X-Men flashback/reboot the studio had an option on her to return. This deal was inked prior to Lawrence getting the role of Katniss Everdeen. With the script to Catching Fire complete, 20th Century Fox has allowed Lawrence to film The Hunger Games sequel prior to the X-Men sequel. (Catching Fire‘s production supposedly starts in late summer. The X-Men sequel begins its production in January 2013).
Ross made a great pitch for the Hunger Games directing gig, a move that has ultimately led to him having his biggest hit yet as a director (currently $400 million and climbing). And in the process of bringing Suzanne Collins’ hit novel to the silver screen he was already in sequel mode, staying active in development of Catching Fire. When post-production ran long, Ross and Collins got the help of in-demand screenwriter Simon Beaufoy (Slumdog Millionaire, Salmon Fishing in the Yemen) last November to finish a screen outline and later pen the sequel with Suzanne Collins.
Unless there’s a dispute over money – back-end profits are a likely culprit – then I suspect Ross will be back for the sequel.
What Do You Think?: If Gary Ross isn’t in the director chair, who would you like to see direct?