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.

When we contacted Lionsgate last week, the studio refused to confirm the original story about Ross’ leaving the franchise, raising some doubts about whether Ross had truly and officially left the project. Then, over the weekend, Deadline dismissed stories of Ross leaving the franchise as “simply not accurate,” though Ross himself was on a family vacation and could not be reached for comment. Now THR says Ross will be speaking with Lionsgate executives this week to talk about the sequel and the issues surrounding it. One possible roadblock, as we noted last week, is money. Ross is asking for a hefty raise from his paycheck for the first film, which came out to $3 million plus 5 percent of backend. While Deadline seems skeptical that Ross wouldn’t leave behind the biggest hit of his career over a lowball salary offer, Ross does have plenty of other projects to choose from should Lionsgate refuse to give him what he wants.

Another has to do with Catching Fire‘s shooting schedule. Because star Jennifer Lawrence is due on set for Fox’s X-Men: First Class sequel in January, Catching Fire would have to get underway by August. Ross has been working on a potential sequel with source material author Suzanne Collins since late last year, and we know that as of this January Slumdog Millionaire scribe Simon Beaufoy was already hard at work on the screenplay. But there’s still no script locked in, which means everyone will have to scramble if cameras are to begin rolling in August. That is, unless Lionsgate bargains with Fox and gets X-Men pushed back to allow more time for Catching Fire.

Basically, all we know for certain at this point is that everything’s still up in the air. If I had to guess, I’d say that Ross would likely return. He’s said to have been very active in developing the first film and the second, and he’s apparently gotten quite close with everyone involved with the project. But then again, the temptation to try something new can be powerful as well. Expect to hear confirmation either way within the next week or so.

Cool Posts From Around the Web: