IT’S OFFICIAL: Gary Ross Will Not Direct “Catching Fire”

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The man who brought The Hunger Games to life has announced he will not be tackling the film’s sequel, Catching Fire.

Whether or not you enjoyed the recent adaptation of The Hunger Games, there is no denying the financial success of the film. As a result of that popularity, the studio is trying to keep a tight production schedule running on the sequel, Catching Fire, in hopes of hitting an even bigger jackpot in 2013, but that may now be in turmoil because director Gary Ross has confirmed he is leaving the project.

In a statement made late Tuesday night, Ross commented:

Despite recent speculation in the media, and after difficult but sincere consideration, I have decided not to direct Catching Fire. As a writer and a director, I simply don’t have the time I need to write and prep the movie I would have wanted to make because of the fixed and tight production schedule.

I loved making The Hunger Games – it was the happiest experience of my professional life. Lionsgate was supportive of me in a manner that few directors ever experience in a franchise: they empowered me to make the film I wanted to make and backed the movie in a way that requires no explanation beyond the remarkable results. And contrary to what has been reported, negotiations with Lionsgate have not been problematic. They have also been very understanding of me through this difficult decision.

I also cannot say enough about the people I worked with: Producer Nina Jacobson, a great collaborator and a true friend; the brilliant Suzanne Collins, who entrusted us with her most amazing and important story; the gifted and remarkable Jennifer Lawrence whose performance exceeded my wildest expectations, and the rest of the incredible cast, whom I am proud to call my friends.

To the fans I want to say thank you for your support your faith, your enthusiasm and your trust. Hard as this may be to understand I am trying to keep that trust with you. Thank you all. It’s been a wonderful experience.

Never ones to stay quiet, Lionsgate released a statement:

We’re very sorry that Gary Ross has chosen not to direct Catching Fire. We were really looking forward to making the movie with him. He did an incredible job on the first film and we are grateful for his work. This will not be the end of our relationship, as we consider Ross to be part of the Lionsgate family and look forward to working with him in the future.

The departure of Ross may not seem big to some, but anyone familiar with the behind-the-scenes of THG knows that is far from the truth. Not only did Ross direct, he also helped work on the screenplay, casting, and dozens of additional elements to the original’s creation that could potentially be lost in the hands of another filmaker.

What do you think? Will The Hunger Games survive with Ross? Will they be better? Comment below and let us know your thoughts on this still developing situation.

James Shotwell

James Shotwell is the founder of Under The Gun Review. He loves writing about music and movies almost as much as he loves his two fat cats. He's also the co-founder of Antique Records and the Marketing Coordinator for Haulix. You should probably follow him on Twitter.

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