Gary Ross Will Direct 'The Hunger Games'

The series many feel could take over the movie and publishing business in the way Twilight did just a few years back finally has a captain at the helm. Gary Ross, who directed Seabiscuit and Pleasantville, will in fact be directing the film version of The Hunger Games based on the best selling book by Suzanne Collins for Lionsgate. Ross was "in talks" a few months back, and while the ink has yet to officially dry, the director showed up at the American Film Market this week to build buzz for the project. Not that it needs it. The best selling trilogy of novels, which are about a futuristic society where kids must kill each other on TV (sort of a romance infused Running Man/Battle Royale hybrid for teens) have been gaining exponential popularity in the last few months. We've got more after the jump.

Variety broke the news of Ross officially coming aboard the project, which is will be produced by Nina Jacobson from an adapted screenplay by Collins herself. Billy Ray, however, is doing a polish on it. And though some might think, "How does Gary Ross fit into this project?" the same could once be said for Catherine Hardwicke, Chris Weitz or David Slade. Or Bill Condon for that matter. All the Twilight directors were almost totally out of right field.

With a director firmly in place, now comes the part of the process that fans are really excited about: casting. Like Russ, who wrote about this last time, I have yet to read the books, though they keep getting recommended to me. So, suffice to say, I don't know my Katniss from Gale or whoever the characters are. I do know that every time I go over to they are posting another story on dream casting, so that's probably a good place to look for educated guesses.

I have a feeling, though, that Ross will probably try and go the Twilight route: semi-recognizable actors who really haven't hit it big yet. You sort of have to. The Hunger Games is the first film in a franchise and if you cast actors who are well-known for other roles, they can't become synonymous with their characters. What I'm also interested in is how this subject matter will be handled and subsequently marketed to the widest possibly audience. From what I've heard, the books get kind of graphic. What do you think?

And, just in case you are totally in the dark – once again – here's the plot description of the first book in the series.

In a not-too-distant future, the United States of America has collapsed, weakened by drought, fire, famine, and war, to be replaced by Panem, a country divided into the Capitol and 12 districts. Each year, two young representatives from each district are selected by lottery to participate in The Hunger Games. Part entertainment, part brutal intimidation of the subjugated districts, the televised games are broadcasted throughout Panem as the 24 participants are forced to eliminate their competitors, literally, with all citizens required to watch. When 16-year-old Katniss's young sister, Prim, is selected as the mining district's female representative, Katniss volunteers to take her place. She and her male counterpart, Peeta, the son of the town baker who seems to have all the fighting skills of a lump of bread dough, will be pitted against bigger, stronger representatives who have trained for this their whole lives.