Monday Morning Critic – Captain America: The First Avengers, Gary Ross and The Hunger Games Sequel
by Scott "Kubryk" Sawitz on April 9, 2012

Every Monday morning, InsidePulse Movies Czar Scott “Kubryk” Sawitz brings an irreverent and oftentimes hilarious look at pop culture, politics, sports and whatever else comes to mind. And sometimes he writes about movies.

Since there’s nothing of real note coming out this week that warrants anything of note in terms of column work, the one story that’s been catching fire this week has been whether or not Gary Ross will be directing the sequel to The Hunger Games. Some sources are saying yes, some are saying no, but there hasn’t been an official word on whether or not Ross will be helming the presumed sequels to the biggest grossing original franchise starter in some time in Catching Fire or Mockingjay for the matter. There’s been a tug of war over Jennifer Lawrence, mainly because she’s also a key to the X-Men: First Class films as well as the headliner of The Hunger Games franchise, but whether or not Ross returns remains an interesting one.

One imagines that with the overwhelming success of the film that everyone involved is going to look for more money to return.

It’s not rocket science; part of why Terrance Howard was replaced from Iron Man and a number of lesser actors from the Twilight series have been changed out is over cash disputes. So I can see why Ross might be hesitant to return to the franchise: it’ll probably be over $500 million by the end of the month at the latest. This is easily his biggest hit ever, which isn’t all that hard considering he’s only directed three films. But all three have been commercial and critical hits, kind of like Terrence Malick but without the bloviating from many films fans.

The thing that stands, though, is that he’d be coming back after the film most likely made the studio somewhere in the neighborhood of $1-200 million before taxes. He’s been successful before but not THIS level of success. The Hunger Games will most likely end up being one of the highest grossing films of the year both domestically and internationally. It says a lot that over three weeks it’s grossing a ton more than a number of high profile films being released afterwards.

That kind of success means he’ll want something more than the reported $3 million or so he received to make the film because he made the hit, pure and simple. You can narrow it down to a number of factors as to why the film hit as large as it did but the one thing you know Ross can argue is that the film was a hit because he did such a good job with it. It gives him an odd sense of leverage.

Now the thing that’s amusing is that if the studio replaces him, or he walks away, is that another major franchise will have a new director step in midway through the proceedings. The one thing Lionsgate will argue, and I think successfully too, is that there’s nothing about The Hunger Games that screams anything from Gary Ross was noticeable. He doesn’t have anything stylistically that sets him apart; you could hire Brett Ratner for the film and get another sequel that makes a ton of cash without skipping a beat. And that got me thinking: If Gary Ross does walk away, who steps in?

So, in grandiose fashion, I’ve opted to come up with a handful of directors who could be interesting choices to step in. You would ideally want someone with an ability to craft a summer blockbuster (which the next film most likely would be), someone with experience working in a franchise and someone able to step in and take another director’s vision and fashion it into their own. Plus you have to have a certain visual sense, as well; this is a franchise that’ll now be expected to sell a ton of tickets and make oodles of cash and has to look the part.

And in true fashion I’ve got an awesome list for it in no particular order.

The Top Five Directors Who Could Make Catching Fire And Not Miss a Beat

1. Brett Ratner

We can laugh all we want, because Ratner is a bit of a toolbox, but he has experience stepping into a franchise for someone else (X-Men: The Last Stand) as well as helming his own nondescript blockbuster franchise in Rush Hour. While the bigger themes of the novel will probably get lost in his usual frat boy cum auteur style, Ratner has experience in these kinds of things and needs a hit after Rush Hour 3 and Tower Heist underperformed.

2. Justin Lin

He’s already stepped in and delivered the best films in the Fast and the Furious franchise already, and has some directing chops, so one can see Lin coming in for this film. The one thing that was interesting about his involvement is that he took Rob Cohen’s style, which is a rip off of Michael Bay’s blockbuster style, and refined it to make a much slicker and more stylistic film than the first.

3. Tony Scott

He may not have stepped in and taken over someone else’s franchise but he’s been around long enough that he could step in and not miss a beat. Scott also has an excellent visual sense which could serve this film well.

4. Kathryn Bigelow

You know what I’d love to see? A female centric action franchise, which is what The Hunger Games franchise is all about, helmed by a woman who knows action. Bigelow is used to smaller budgets, too, so you might be able to make this film cheaper without losing anything in a visual sense. She might not have helmed a franchise before, or stepped in for someone else, but Bigelow has been around for long enough that it wouldn’t matter.

5. Robert Zemeckis

He is returning to live action with Flight but Zemeckis has crafted a number of visually arresting and powerful films already. Zemeckis also has experience with a franchise that was snake bit with Back to the Future as well; Flight will most likely be a hit because it has a stellar cast. But he has a whimsical visual sense I’d love to see in a film like this.

What do you think? Does anyone else come to mind that could step in for Gary Ross? Let me know below.

A Movie A Week – The Challenge

This Week’s DVD – Captain America: The First Avenger

When it comes to superhero films, Captain America: The First Avenger gets one thing extraordinarily right: character. I loved this film in theatres because it got the main character so absolutely, insanely correct. And while Captain America didn’t set the box office on fire as much as it could’ve. This is a shame because it’s a damn fine film.

You can read my review of it theatrically here and my thoughts haven’t changed since the first viewing. I loved it as a character piece in theatres and it’s just as good on DVD.

Strong recommendation

What Looks Good This Weekend, and I Don’t Mean the $2 Pints of Bass Ale and community college co-eds with low standards at the Alumni Club

The Cabin in the Woods – A bunch of soon to be dead teenagers and Thor go into the woods to a cabin. Shenanigans ensue.

See It – This has had some buzz around it so far and looks to be pretty solid.

Lockout – Guy Pearce goes into space, Taken style.

See It – Luc Besson has action films down to an art.

The Three Stooges – Larry, Moe and Curly are back … for a feature length film.

Kill Yourself Instead – You know how you can tell if someone is a moron? Look around a theatre when this film’s trailer is being played. If they laugh, there’s your answer. If they pay to see this film … well … might not be someone you ought to be friends with.

Badass – Danny Trejo is that old dude in that internet video who beat up people on a bus. In Limited Release

See It – Danny Trejo in a starring role in anything is good enough for me.

Scott “Kubryk” Sawitz brings his trademarked irreverence and offensive hilarity to Twitter in 140 characters or less. Follow him @ScottSawitz .



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