It’s probably a good thing that rumors have been swirling for weeks that Gary Ross would back out of The Hunger Games sequel, Catching Fire. Otherwise we would be reeling from his announcement, made late last night, that he is dropping the project. As it is, we’re still pretty stunned. And Lionsgate is apparently feeling like a jilted bride.
“Despite recent speculation in the media, and after difficult but sincere consideration, I have decided not to direct Catching Fire,” Ross said in a statement released to Deadline. “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.”
Man, we know it takes a lot of time to make a movie, but is this a believable reason? From the time he was named director of The Hunger Games in November 2010 to the movie’s release last month, he had about 16 months. That’s about two months less than the time he has before the November 22, 2013 release date of Catching Fire — and he already has his main cast in place. But Ross is sticking to that argument, saying that “contrary to what has been reported, negotiations with Lionsgate have not been problematic. They have also been very understanding of me through this difficult decision.”
The studio’s statement seems to confirm that there are no hard feelings. “We’re very sorry that Gary Ross has chosen not to direct Catching Fire. We were really looking forward to making the movie with him. He did an incredible job on the first film and we are grateful for his work. This will not be the end of our relationship, as we consider Ross to be part of the Lionsgate family and look forward to working with him in the future.”
Ross’ excuse sounds eerily similar to Catherine Hardwicke’s reason for not making New Moon. “I am sorry that due to timing I will not have the opportunity to direct New Moon,” she said, very shortly after the release of Twilight.
So, fans, are you worried that Catching Fire will be any less spectacular without Ross at its helm? Or does the the fact that the Harry Potter franchise and the Twilight Saga have both thrived with director changes calm your nerves? Let us know in the comments!
[Photos: Getty Images, Scholastic]