It is confirmed that Gary Ross would not direct "Catching Fire". While Lionsgate Films have been optimistic that the "Seabiscuit" helmer will eventually return to the sequel, the director himself has decided to exit the movie franchise. The decision has totally surprised the studio as an exec told Deadline, "I am in shock."
On Tuesday, April 10, Ross released his official statement to announce, "Despite recent speculation in the media, and after difficult but sincere consideration, I have decided not to direct 'Catching Fire'." He added, "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."
Ross also made it clear that he didn't undergo a rough negotiation with Lionsgate due to salary issue. "And contrary to what has been reported, negotiations with Lionsgate have not been problematic," he claimed. "They have also been very understanding of me through this difficult decision."
The filmmaker went on thanking all the parties who have supported him in "Hunger Games". He said, "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," he continued. "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."
"Catching Fire", which is scheduled to open wide in the U.S. on November 22, 2013, will bring back Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth as Katniss Everdeen, Peeta Mellark and Gale Hawthorne. In it, Katniss and Peeta are getting punished for their defiance. They will be forced to compete in a special 75th staging of the Hunger Games, where they must compete against past winners.