Before The Hunger Games was released, I spoke with Gary Ross on numerous occasions and each time he seemed extremely confident he’d be back to direct the sequel, Catching Fire. He’d hand selected the screenwriter, had thoughts about casting and Lionsgate even set a release date. Then his film blew up into an gargantuan success and rumors began swirling Ross wasn’t going to come back. The Playlist then confirmed this. Days later, Deadline wrote otherwise and we all just thought it was public posturing for a bigger check. According to Gary Ross, that was not the case.

Ross has released a statement that explains why he will not be back to direct Catching Fire, finally closing the book on the argument and you can read it after the jump. Read More »

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I’ve talked before about the awkwardness of marketing a multimillion-dollar movie that rallies against overblown consumerism and mindless entertainment, but since no film as big as The Hunger Games gets made these days without an onslaught of tie-ins, the merchandise push continues. The latest Panem-themed product poised to hit shelves is Mattel’s Katniss Everdeen Barbie, who looks not at all like star Jennifer Lawrence but is dressed a lot like her. Check out the first pictures after the jump.

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You’ll have to put your fantasies of an Alfonso Cuaron- or Kathryn Bigelow-directed The Hunger Games sequel back on the shelf for now. Despite last week’s report that Gary Ross had exited the franchise and would not be directing the second installment, Catching Fire, sources close to the situation are saying that Ross has yet to formally withdraw. In fact, Ross is set to meet with Lionsgate today to discuss his possible role in the film series going forward. More details after the jump.

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This is why we can never make any assumptions about how a deal is going to go down before the ink is set and dried. Even before the massive success of The Hunger Games, most assumed that Gary Ross would return to direct the sequel, Catching Fire. Simon Beaufoy was hired to script the sequel, and said to be working under the supervision of Ross.

In the weeks since the release of The Hunger Games, we’ve heard about negotiations between Ross and Lionsgate, and while there seemed to be some contention over money, the general takeaway was that Ross and the studio would come to terms and he would once again be in the director’s chair for the sequel.

Turns out that might not be the case. Rather, Ross may have been playing his own smart game, letting many think he would be ready to move on to the sequel, but instead using his new cachet from the film’s success to ensure he could do a film he has been developing for a while. In other words, if the report we’ve got today is correct, Catching Fire will have a new director. Read More »

Everyone is cashing in on Hunger Games mania, even the owner of the small North Carolina town used as District 12 in the film. Henry River Mill Village, all 72 desolate acres of it, is now for sale for the low, low price of $1.4 million. Pretty archer and stoic, handsome baker not included. Read more and check the town out yourself after the jump. Read More »

That Gary RossThe Hunger Games would get a sequel was practically a forgone conclusion before the film ever opened. Now that it’s officially become a hit, drawing in $368 million to date, it’s an absolutely sure bet that we’ll see Katniss, Gale and Peeta again on the big screen before long. Less certain, however, is whether writer-director Ross will return for the second installment, Catching Fire. While stars Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, and Liam Hemsworth are locked in for the sequel, Ross is not, and he’s reportedly battling with the studio for a hefty pay raise. More details after the jump.

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This week, Dave, Devindra, and Adam discuss the pleasures of texting in a theater, praise the wonders of Clone High and The Raid: Redemption, and compare Battle Royale to The Hunger Games (because nobody’s ever mentioned their similarities ever!). Tasha Robinson joins us from AV Club.

You can always e-mail us at slashfilmcast(AT)gmail(DOT)com, or call and leave a voicemail at 781-583-1993. We’ll most likely be reviewing Goon next week. /Filmcast live broadcasts won’t be regular the next few months, but follow Dave on Twitter to see when we’ll be broadcasting next!

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There’s a great semi-futuristic story of brutal combat, in which a battered nation is captivated as two-person teams battle one another to the death in an ironic but potent allegory of public entertainment and government control gone wrong. A reserved but driven hero manipulates public perception to gain an edge in the games, and could ultimately become something more significant than a survivor.

I’m not thinking of The Hunger Games; I’m thinking of Paul Bartel’s Death Race 2000, released in 1975 and made under producer Roger Corman. Death Race 2000 does a lot of things right, as Corman’s shoestring affairs go. It has the silly, exploitative and satirical angles covered with material to spare. What it doesn’t have, however, is a truly compelling main character. The Hunger Games has that one thing Bartel didn’t: a killer lead performance, in this case from Jennifer Lawrence as the young family provider turned warrior Katniss Everdeen. That’s just about all it’s got.

As satire and allegory, The Hunger Games is a whiff and a miss. But as a portrait of Katniss, it has the benefit of featuring Lawrence in nearly every scene, and the young actress doesn’t squander the movie’s opportunity. I suspect that in twenty years Winter’s Bone will be the movie in which we turn back to see Lawrence play an impressive provider, but The Hunger Games makes a good introduction to the fierce Lawrence, if nothing else. Read More »

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