Director Negotiations to Delay 'Hunger Games' Sequel 'Catching Fire'?

April 4, 2012
Source: THR

Catching Fire / Gary Ross

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?

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Having Alonso Cuaron direct anything would be great, but I'd like to see Ross return and continue his work (I really liked the movie) and I'd like to think Lionsgate can spare the expenses no matter how outrageous the salary might sound. As someone who also liked First Class, I'd much rather have Catching Fire get moving and either have Lawrence's role in X-Men be given less screentime, recast, etc. As sucky as the situation could become, I'd rather see her continue to portray the lead character of one franchise then the supporting of another if having to make a choice.

Andrew DiDonato on Apr 4, 2012


couldn't agree more with everything you just said.

Danimal on Apr 4, 2012


Likewise.  As Lawrence gets older her age will be more difficult to reconcile with her character's age (not that she didn't do so brilliantly this time around) and she must remain the lead.  Also, the trilogy only gets darker and more difficult to film.  To stay true to the source and mood will require a lot of courage in the face of a potentially smaller box office.

Violiner1 on Apr 4, 2012


Can't say I blame him. I'd want a raise as well.

Nick on Apr 4, 2012


he's going to make so much money from just the first movie its self so he really shouldn't really want a raise 

Shamel4000 on Apr 4, 2012


Replace him. He's not that great. I think the acting was the best thing in the movie from the key players. His directing was shoddy. Pointless shaky cam in the beginning in D12 and action was generic.

Hu on Apr 4, 2012


you TOTALLY nailed it Hu. Who hired Ross? He hasnt directed ANY action movies, only 3 movies actually. 2 of those were "Seabiscuit" and "Pleasantville". Why not hire an actual ACTION director like Ridley Scott (Gladiator) or Christopher Nolan (Inception). They at least know how to do action and really incorporate the emotion of the sountrack. By the end of the movie, I was like, 'was there EVEN a soundtrack?' because it was barely noticeable. The soundtrack is what gets the emotion pumping and pulsing. They had such a successful turnout because people read the books, not because they made an amazing movie. 

Laceyannelliot on Apr 4, 2012


The problem with what you said is Nolan's action directing didnt become superb until The Dark Knight.  I found Batman Begin's action scenes to be sub par.  But Nolan got ALOT better. This can happen with Ross.

Brandon V. Fletcher on Apr 4, 2012


 Shaky camera work is meant to show the instability/lack-of-focus or the like for a shot. Most of the beginning was shot like that to show the despair seen and felt. Made sense to me.

GregDinskisk on Apr 4, 2012


If so, what is wrong with your eyes? Humans dont have their heads attached to a loose spring, our vision "glides". If you were to shake your head around to copy this kind of shaking, I'm sure you'll pass out. A little shaky, yes, then it can show lack of focus, angst, but this was just to get the PG-13 rating, in my opinion. This looked like a videocamera attached to the contestants shoulder or something was bouncing all over......wait a sec....

David Banner on Apr 4, 2012


Shaky cam is to get a PG-13. There is no other logical reason for it. You couldn't really see anything happening with the shaky cam, right? PG-13 it is then.

David Banner on Apr 4, 2012


He got paid $3m and that ain't bad, but it seems low end for a franchise such as this.  His contract says that he will get 5% of the back end, but as we know Hollywood accounting can be VERY tricky.  They should negotiate. And quickly.

willmize on Apr 4, 2012


he deserves a raise without hunger games i bet lionsgate would'nt of lasted much longer all they had was  SAW lol

HG2012 on Apr 4, 2012


I'm surprised they dont want him for Catching Fire because he did an amazing job with Hunger Games.  I think they should keep him for the whole series.

Digigirl4 on Apr 4, 2012



Brandon V. Fletcher on Apr 4, 2012


$3 million plus 5% of the backend gross to write and direct is a good deal. Any deal he gets, should be matched to Suzanne Collins' deal, i.e, they get the same deal. But I think she has been paid in full and will get no backend, but I hope I am wrong. It's how "backend" is defined. It could be $10million pr film, or $100million. Not sure I would risk being a dick and getting more money when the entire world had not heared of me before a few weeks ago. I would fear I was replaceable, if I were Gary Ross.  But not all can get this kind of deal, soon all those 5%'s will be over 100%, and we've know about "Springtime for Hitler", right? 🙂  Yeah, I took it to another place....

David Banner on Apr 4, 2012


I think he should be replaced to be honest his work wasn't good. He picked a great cast but the cinematography was horrible if you ask me. I could not focus on anything in the beginning of the movie. On top of that they missed key parts of the book and it lost the emotion of the series. I think if he did not come back I would be okay with that. Maybe a release date of 2014 will help get a new director who can do the book justice. I think anyone who has a background of action movies would be better then what he did. Keep the Characters, change the director.

Abigail hondorp on Apr 5, 2012


I hate greedy people! Might as well get a new director. I liked the movie but I didn't like how many of the scenes were a bit unsteady, as if it were an old man holding the camera.

JediBilly on Apr 5, 2012


I actually had the same immediate thought as the author, that Cuaron would be a wonderful choice if they do have to switch directors.  I'd be very leery of many other directors, though, since Ross was so respectful of Collins' intentions, and many directors tend to go for the bang and flash before story, which is exactly what the Hunger Games trilogy *doesn't* need.   Also, plenty just aren't very good.  I thought all of David Yates' Harry Potter offerings were mediocre to acceptable, no better.  

B. on Apr 6, 2012


Lose Ross, he is greedy and I have never heard of him until this movie. He changed a lot of key things from the book and the camera was to shaky all the time, no one likes either of these things, or am I wrong and you think that the camera was perfect just the way it was. And as for my fellow readers of the first book don't tell me that you didn't notice those small changes that actually kinda hurt to see them changed like that. Hey Lionsgate this time choose a director that 1. Has actually been heard of and 2. Doen not change the book so much.

Tracecowan1999 on Apr 7, 2012



Taylor rogers on Oct 18, 2012

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