Sources: Gary Ross Has Not Withdrawn From ‘Hunger Games 2′

Despite reports that have spread like wildfire on showbiz websites, we hear from multiple sources close to Catching Fire that director Gary Ross has not formally withdrawn from The Hunger Games sequel. Ross is off on a family vacation and couldn’t be reached, but these internet reports that described his withdrawal as definitive are simply not accurate.

There have also been reports about a tense standoff between Lionsgate and Fox over the sequel services of Jennifer Lawrence, who will reprise her role as Mystique in the sequel to X-Men: First Class. That has also been somewhat overblown; Fox had an option deal on Lawrence way before she signed on to play Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games. That put Fox in first position. Since Lionsgate has a Catching Fire script done, Fox allowed them to go first.

As for the notion that Ross would simply toss away the opportunity to return and direct Catching Fire because of a salary squabble, the logic seems flawed. The Seabiscuit director knows the benefit of riding in a winner and not switching horses midstream. Ross lobbied hard to get The Hunger Games and turned it into the biggest hit of his directing career. Before that, he developed several serious historical dramatic projects under his deal at Universal that didn’t get off the ground. Staying for a sure-fire hit and a sequel that audiences actually want to see makes a lot of sense for Ross, particularly given how active the filmmaker has been in the construction of Catching Fire.

Ross and author Suzanne Collins have been working on this since last November. They drafted Slumdog Millionaire screenwriter Simon Beaufoy back then, when the Hunger Games post production schedule became too arduous for Ross to see through a plan to write the outline and then pen the sequel script with Collins. We’ve heard that Ross developed a tight bond with everyone involved in the film, including cast. Unless the deal making completely implodes, we expect to see Ross behind the camera when the sequel gets underway.

Comments (62)

  • errm ross is not the cinematographer. sure he will peek behind the cmaera now n then but…

    Comment by behind the camera — Saturday April 7, 2012 @ 8:43am PDT  
    • Run almost any prominent director’s name through Google Images, and you’ll find most of them have posed authoritatively next to a camera. It’s an inevitable cliché of on-set photography.

      Comment by Magilla — Saturday April 7, 2012 @ 1:51pm PDT  
    • It says, “I’m makin’ a movie, dammit!”.

      Comment by Tosser — Sunday April 8, 2012 @ 12:50am PDT  
    • Pedantry at its finest.

      Comment by TL — Sunday April 8, 2012 @ 10:58am PDT  
  • Dang. So the sequel might be just as awful as the first one with more oppressively ugly cinematography, bad editing, and mediocre performances? Maybe the script will actually be better and the characters well written this time. Somehow I doubt it.

    Comment by Jake — Saturday April 7, 2012 @ 8:45am PDT  
    • geez, what movie did you see? The masses and I loved it!

      Comment by Susan — Saturday April 7, 2012 @ 11:04am PDT  
      • Yeah, so what??

        The “masses” LOVE the Kardashians. Does that make them interesting? Does it validate their monopoly on our culture? Puhleeze, child. If you make a crappy film people will still come. There’s no way I was going to miss seeing HGs. Just because I paid my $14.00 does not make my experience worth it.

        Comment by Mar — Saturday April 7, 2012 @ 4:27pm PDT  
        • Take your word over Roger Ebert and Peter Travers? Where’s your Pulitzer, genius?

          Comment by Dirk Allen — Monday April 9, 2012 @ 6:54am PDT  
    • You are just jealous because it took all of ‘Wrath’s audience last week.

      Comment by Jack — Saturday April 7, 2012 @ 11:47am PDT  
    • Agree. Ross has such weird tone and sluggish timing. The book had such terrific dramatic moments that should have been a slam-dunk for the adaptation — Katniss being HUNGRY and gobbling up the lamb stew at the Capital banquet, Peeta’s self-serving skill in propaganda/PR and Katniss’ Cinderella makeover. These are just a few examples much less the completely boring GAMES and the decision to make the children’s deaths completely devoid of any emotion or pathos. Hey, Ross, it’s called a film — why don’t you intercut Katniss&Petra’s family as they watch, riveted and horrified, as their young, innocent, loved-ones fight for their survival. Hey, you can do that bc it’s a FILM! It’s called building out your story and taking it away from the books first person narration.

      I didn’t feel anything when these kid’s died on screen w Ross’ lame (and sudden) MTV fast-cuts and lack of building out the contestant’s characters. Brilliant. Not.

      Comment by Anonymous — Saturday April 7, 2012 @ 11:58am PDT  
      • You lost me at “Petra”.

        Comment by Anonymous — Saturday April 7, 2012 @ 1:55pm PDT  
      • Agree completely. Loved the books but the movie was badly directed and done on the cheap. They really need a new director and a much better budget next time around if they want to do justice to the second book.

        Comment by nyguy — Saturday April 7, 2012 @ 4:20pm PDT  
      • Yeah, he missed those BIG DRAMATIC moments such as Katniss eating stew. Oh wow you’re a genius. I’m sure your take on the movie would have been oh so very brilliant.

        Comment by J — Sunday April 8, 2012 @ 5:08am PDT  
    • Who cares about these jealous “art” critiques?! It’s all about the business. People loved it. It’s making tons of money and that’s what counts. If you’re so good at it, why aren’t you making films we’re all watching? Get real!

      Comment by Realist Observer — Saturday April 7, 2012 @ 1:19pm PDT  
    • Sooooo edgy you are.

      Comment by Dirk Allen — Monday April 9, 2012 @ 6:51am PDT  
  • Why would he — his name’s been over studio grids for over a decade. This is the first major film he’s ever had. Enjoy it, G!

    Comment by Shut Up Kids! — Saturday April 7, 2012 @ 8:46am PDT  
    • Do you mean “off” the studio grids? Also, I think SEABISCUIT counts as a “major film” in terms of box office, awards nominations, etc. Of course, “major film” could mean anything.

      Comment by Johnny Ringo — Saturday April 7, 2012 @ 2:05pm PDT  
      • Seabiscuit was a fuckin’ dud, dude.

        I don’t care if you were on a notes call for it or got to grab the producer’s coffee. It was a dud and forgettable as everything else Ross has released.

        Comment by Barren Moon China Chow — Saturday April 7, 2012 @ 2:57pm PDT  
        • If your taste is so bad that you didn’t like Pleasantville I don’t know what to tell you.

          Comment by milo — Monday April 9, 2012 @ 8:02am PDT  
  • Lionsgate would be smart to keep him. Unlike most franchises, this one doesn’t blow.

    Comment by Max — Saturday April 7, 2012 @ 9:08am PDT  
  • Guess that means we can look forward to more shaky cam and faux-gritty stylings in place of actually knowing how to shoot an action sequence in which the audience can see what’s happening.

    Comment by JK — Saturday April 7, 2012 @ 9:24am PDT  
    • I agree. Action directing is a definite skill. And character action directing is a fine-art.

      Comment by Anonymous — Saturday April 7, 2012 @ 11:59am PDT  
  • Well, THAT is comforting. :)

    Comment by Jessica — Saturday April 7, 2012 @ 10:03am PDT  
  • Nikki it would not make financial sense for Liongate not settle
    with Mr. Ross. Why would liongate risk a production deley because
    they do not want to pay the director who made the studio its biggest hit.

    Comment by Kathleen Gourn — Saturday April 7, 2012 @ 10:16am PDT  
  • makes sense. The reasons given seemed difficult to believe. However Summit/Lionsgate did change directors for Twilight, so it’s a possibility.

    Comment by ah — Saturday April 7, 2012 @ 10:19am PDT  
    • Oh, I hope he’ll rid off the shaky cam, it was a terrible idea, there was no sense to it.

      Comment by gellar — Saturday April 7, 2012 @ 10:30am PDT  
  • THANK YOU for the update guys, I was waiting to finally hear the scoop from you. It simply makes no sense that an official backout from Gary would have happened while he’s on a family vacation. The details of the IndieWire story just don’t add up, including the reason given for Gary backing out. It still could be that he wants to back out, but the idea that a major decision would be made while he’s on vacation is just weird. We’ll see what happens come Monday (or whenever he returns from vacay) …

    Comment by Rachael — Saturday April 7, 2012 @ 10:36am PDT  
  • They don’t think they need to pay Gary as much as he deserves for the sequel. They will do anything to make extra money. Gary needs the sequel more than they need Gary. He should be allowed to direct both parts 2 and 3 and he deserves a fair amount of profit participation but he won’t get this because these are now The Greed Games. Summit would be happy to see a dozen directors fighting each other to the death in the forest and they will hire whoever survives.

    Comment by Anonymous — Saturday April 7, 2012 @ 10:41am PDT  
    • like they did with the Twilight franchise. Katherine Hardwick: out. Or Marvel does it with its own franchise: Kenneth Branagh: out, Joe Johnston: out. Jon Favreau: out (almost after the first movie). Looks like studio greed has overrun any integrity.

      Comment by Kabbe — Saturday April 7, 2012 @ 12:41pm PDT  
    • I’m mystified as to why Gary Ross “deserves” a fair amount of profit participation. He’s a hired gun doing a job many other directors could do directing someone else’s script from someone else’s novel (yes I’m aware he has a script credit). If they didn’t have him they’d have someone else making more or less the same movie. The Hunger Games was going to happen with him or without him. Suzanne Collins deserves a fair amount of profit participation. I can’t think of any of individual in the process who does, maybe other than her editor.

      Comment by jer — Saturday April 7, 2012 @ 11:37pm PDT  
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