Director Negotiations to Delay 'Hunger Games' Sequel 'Catching Fire'?
Sure the box office success of The Hunger Games, which has grossed nearly $370 million at the time of this article, has pretty much guaranteed the sequel Catching Fire is coming quickly. A release date has even been set for November 22, 2013, but apparently negotiations to bring back director Gary Ross have gotten pretty tense and could delay the film's projected release. Word on the street from THR is that negotiations to have him helm The Hunger Games were already difficult because he had an Oscar nod in his past from Seabiscuit, and now that the franchise is a big cash cow, Ross is looking for a raise. More below.
Ross was not already signed for a sequel in his original deal, though stars Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth are already locked for Catching Fire, so there's no worries there. The director was paid $3 million plus 5% of the backend gross to write and direct the adaptation of Suzanne Collins' first novel in her trilogy, but it's not clear how much more he wants to be paid for the sequel. Either way, a script from Slumdog Millionaire Simon Beaufoy is waiting to be revised by Ross if a deal can be struck between Lionsgate and the director. However, Ross might not be the only bump in the road that could delay a hopeful production start for the sequel in the fall.
Apparently Fox's option to bring Jennifer Lawrence back as Mystique in an X-Men: First Class sequel would trump the hold that Lionsgate has to put Lawrence in Catching Fire. So the race is on to see which production will be ready first, and unless negotiations with Ross quickly take a turn for the better, there's a possibility that we might not see a sequel to this new successful franchise until 2014, perhaps in the same March slot that the first film debuted.
Of course, it's not unheard of for a new director to be brought in to continue a franchise. The Harry Potter and Twilight Saga franchises made a habit of switching out directors, but considering the critical reception of the first film, I'm betting Lionsgate isn't necessarily eager on changing their guard. For fans' sake, we hope a deal can be struck or a great director can replace Ross if necessary. Frankly, considering the kind of work Alfonso Cuaron turned in for Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, which would set the darker tone for the rest of the series, I'd like to see him take a crack at the sequel if necessary. Thoughts?