Gary Ross is Officially Not Directing The Hunger Games Sequel

Gary RossOh, Gary Ross, you rascal, you. After much speculation, it looks like Ross, who directed the first “Hunger Games” movie, will not be back for the sequel after all. Lionsgate is apparently flabbergasted that he won’t return, as this doesn’t seem to be a case of a director and studio not seeing eye to eye, but more a case of a director who just, well, want to do something else … just cause.

Here’s the official word from Ross himself in a statement:

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.

It certainly sounds like Ross is putting the blame here on a constricted prepping and shooting schedule. Lionsgate has already scheduled the second film to shoot later this year for a 2013 release in order to take advantage of Jennifer Lawrence’s availability, and maybe Ross is not feeling that. Which I guess is good for him. Why jump feet-first into a project he doesn’t think he can properly prepare and direct?

So. Anyone out there want to direct the second part of what is sure to be a major instant hit that, if the first movie’s box office is any indication, will give just about any movie a run for its money as the biggest film of 2013? Anyone?

Gary Ross and Jennifer Lawrence on the set of The Hunger Games (2012) Movie Image

Via : The Wrap