Francis Lawrence is close to land the coveted role of directing "Catching Fire". The helmer of "I Am Legend" and "Water for Elephants" has been officially given the offer to replace "The Hunger Games" director Gary Ross in the sequel on Thursday, April 19, a spokeswoman for Lionsgate confirmed to Variety.
Lawrence has been included in the list of potential directors after Ross bowed out of the franchise because of a "fixed and tight production schedule". He was being considered along with "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban" helmer Alfonso Cuaron, "A Dangerous Method" helmer David Cronenberg and "Babel" helmer Alejandro Gonzales Inarrity among others.
It is still unclear whether Lawrence accepted the offer. Lionsgate's spokeswoman noted when confirming news of the offer that the studio has not closed the directing deal. The studio itself plans to start filming the follow-up to "Hunger Games" in the late summer for a November 22, 2013 release date in the United States.
In "Catching Fire", Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark 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. Jennifer Lawrence and Josh Hutcherson will return as Katniss and Peeta with Liam Hemsworth expected to reprise his role as Gale Hawthorne.