Yesterday we reported that Gary Ross might not return to the Hunger Games franchise over salary disputes. Today, in one of the faster turnaround times in recent memory, it's been confirmed: Catching Fire, the adaptation of Suzanne Collins' second novel in the series, needs a new director, and pretty much right now.
In an exclusive report, IndieWire has revealed that the dispute was not being resolved to Ross's satisfaction, and that he has officially departed the project. While the first film is still tearing up the box office like the Nintendo 64 kid through cheap wrapping paper, it's not much of a loss for the director, whose body of work – which also includes Pleasantville, Seabiscuit and the screenplays to Big and Dave – pretty much guarantees him a permanent spot in the Hollywood elite even without a hit franchise all his own. He's reportedly moved on to another, unspecified project that will earn him a bigger payday than Lionsgate is willing to shell out for one of the biggest moneymakers in years. IndieWire also reports that beyond money, Ross is also simply disinterested in repeating himself. His new film is something he wrote himself, too, which only helps to justify his passion for moving on.
With production on Catching Fire scheduled to move forward before the end of the year, to avoid conflicting with the X-Men: First Class sequel (which Lawrence is also contractually obligated to star in), Lionsgate is expected to move quickly to find a suitable replacement. Having not read the books, we're uncertain who would be best to fill Gary Ross's position. Maybe you fans have some ideas? Shout 'em out in the comments if you have any passion about it.
CraveOnline will return with more Catching Fire news when we find out who the odds ever favor.