Setting a director to make The Hunger Games sequel Catching Fire turned out to be a little more complicated for Lionsgate than was originally expected. While Gary Ross was first thought to be fully set to reprise his directorial duties after making the smash first film, he moved on to other jobs. After casting about for follow-up options, Lionsgate made an offer to I Am Legend, Constantine and Water For Elephants director Francis Lawrence.

Today Lawrence has signed to make Catching Fire. The film will start shooting in the fall, and “Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, and Liam Hemsworth will reprise their roles as Katniss, Peeta and Gale, with Lenny Kravitz, Elizabeth Banks, Stanley Tucci, Donald Sutherland, Toby Jones, and Woody Harrelson also returning to their respective roles.” The release date remains November 22, 2013.

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After narrowing down the field to two possible contenders earlier this week, Lionsgate has finally settled on a new director to replace Gary Ross for its Hunger Games sequel Catching Fire. Francis Lawrence has just received the offer to helm the sequel, beating out fellow finalist Bennett Miller (Moneyball). Though Lawrence and Lionsgate have yet to finalize the deal, considering how quickly the studio is moving on this project, we can probably expect them to do so soon. More after the jump.

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For the last couple weeks the biggest question mark in Hollywood has been related to who Lionsgate plans to hire to direct The Hunger Games sequel Catching Fire. Originally Gary Ross was thought to be set for the film, but it turned out that he had other ideas. After some extended last-minute dealmaking attempts, some of which included minor manipulations of the news that he was walking away from the film, Ross was revealed to be out of the picture for good.

So who steps in? A shortlist came out that includes some surprising names: David Cronenberg, Alfonso Cuaron, and Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu. Now we can add two more names to the ‘possible’ column: Moneyball director Bennett Miller, and I Am Legend and Constantine director Francis Lawrence. Read More »

Chatter about who could or should direct the Hunger Games sequel Catching Fire began the second word got out that the first film’s helmer, Gary Ross, might be leaving the franchise. And now that his departure’s officially been confirmed, the conversation has further heated up, not just among fans but among Lionsgate studio execs as well.

A search has begun in earnest for Ross’ replacement, and if the first three names we’ve heard are indicative of the direction that Lionsgate is going, Ross’ exit could actually end up being a blessing in disguise. Among the filmmakers supposedly in the mix are Alfonso Cuarón, David Cronenberg, and Alejandro González Iñárritu. Read more after the jump.

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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 »

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 »

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