If we take into account the latest from The Hollywood Reporter, the tug-of-war for Jennifer Lawrence ended up making Gary Ross the victim. Scheduling conflict and lack of time are reportedly why Ross left the franchise:
Fox’s January date led the bond company on Catching Fire to insist that Lionsgate commit to finish filming by Dec. 20, backing the studio into a production schedule with an August start date that Ross felt he could not accommodate. (Fox’s deal with Lawrence predates her contract for Hunger Games, putting X-Men in a priority position.)
According to knowledgeable sources, Lionsgate Motion Picture Group co-chair Rob Friedman pressed Fox to set a later start date for the X-Men movie, even offering allurements including a chance to handle some of the overseas distribution on Catching Fire.
Ross, who has earned screenplay Oscar nominations for Big, Dave and Seabiscuit, felt that he had to focus on the script for at least two months, leaving him only six to eight weeks to prepare for shooting. Sources also say he feels the second novel is the most challenging in the trilogy to make into a compelling film. Collins, who shares writing credit on The Hunger Games with Ross and Billy Ray, is said to want a screen version that is very faithful to her book.
That said, Movies.com ran a feature with major fansites reacting to the news:
Tanvi of Hunger Games Network
With all the rumors flying around, I think I can at least say it is a relief to finally have the official statement. Of course I am disappointed. With all the grand ideas Gary Ross had for Catching Fire, I had already started envisioning Catching Fire to be as awesome as The Hunger Games – the extra scenes, the amazing shots. If Ross stayed, we’d have a perfect continuity like Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings. While the past week has been an emotionally wrecking one for any fan, I think it’s time to look forward. Ross was brilliant and understood the story, but that definitely doesn’t mean no one else will. He is leaving behind a legacy, and it will be great to have a new perspective on the story. I trust Nina Jacobson’s instincts; she loves the franchise as much as the fans do. Overall, I am now looking forward to a renewed look into the world of Panem.
You can read the rest here.
It really is dusted and done, so let’s take a look at what we do have in store now. But there are too many names that are floating around, and they are all rumors. We look at directors who can be counted out of the race:
ShowBlitz caught up Joss Whedon and John Goddard. The Cabin in the Woods duo are already working with Lionsgate, but they’ve ruled out Catching Fire:
“You know, I love the books and I really love the movie,” said Whedon. “I think Gary Ross [did] them all beautifully, and who wouldn’t want to work with that cast, honestly? And I think the second book is really exciting. But I’ve been walking in somebody else’s world for a long time. I’ve spent the last two years doing that and watching ‘Cabin’ reminds me what it’s like when something comes purely from your own brain, how much fun that is. It’d be tempting as hell, not that they’d necessarily ask, but no, I feel like it’s time to go back into the ‘Insane-o’ place and see what else comes out.”
“I love Lionsgate so much that if they come to me with anything, I will always listen, because I can’t say enough good things about this company. I love them! I love the books and I loved the movie. I thought Gary did a phenomenal job and I’m excited to see part two,” said Goddard, after laughing at the admittedly baited question.
Our friend Adam Spunberg of HGFireSideChat poured his thoughts at ScreenCrave.com on who should replace Ross. But notable in the article is who SHOULDN’T:
Alfonso Cuaron – His name is being floated out there far too often for my tastes. Ask any fervent Harry Potter fan and he/she will tell you what a nightmare Prisoner of Azkaban was. Cuaron is an OUTSTANDING director, but he makes all his films far more about his own artistic interpretation than the material he’s working with. Cuaron would be a dream director for non-fans and an apocalypse for lovers of the books. STAY AWAY!
Michael Bay – Does this even need an explanation? Sure, he would be great at having things blow up in the Cornucopia, but you may as well forget about depth and acting. That he is being mentioned at all is frightening.
Catherine Hardwicke – If there is one thing The Hunger Games franchise should unequivocally avoid, it’s having ANYTHING to do with Twilight. Under Ross’s fine direction, The Hunger Games has come out of the gate drawing little comparison to the much maligned Twilight series, and keeping away from directors like Hardwicke would ensure that continues. Plus, if Lionsgate were even to consider Hardwicke (she is among the rumored choices), the fans might just burn down the studio. We don’t need a literal case of “catching fire” before Catching Fire hits pre-production.
However, to think of the obvious directors, if we go stark back to when negotiations for The Hunger Games were happening, we have two other names in the fore apart from Gary Ross: Sam Mendes (Kite Runner, exec. producer) and David Slade (The Twilight Saga: Eclipse, director).
Gary Ross, Sam Mendes and David Slade have emerged as the favorites. The script has become one of those closely guarded documents which do not leave the production company’s headquarters. I’ve also heard Andrew Adamson’s name in the mix, but it appears to be down to the three I mentioned.
The other major name is of course, Steven Soderbergh, who has already worked on The Hunger Games‘s second unit bringing us one of the memorable scenes from the movie: the uprising at District 11.
While this is sad business indeed, let’s see where we go from here!
Let us know what you think!