Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Gary Ross Will Not Return to Direct "Catching Fire"

Andrew: Hello readers! There's a story that's been percolating around the entertainment industry the past week or so that we've wanted to touch on here at Two Tickets For..., but we wanted to wait until the rumors had ceased and something official had been announced before talking about it (just so we don't waste your time, or ours for that matter).
And we officially have our confirmation, and that news is that Gary Ross, director of this year's smash blockbuster The Hunger Games, will NOT return to direct the sequel, Catching Fire.
Lionsgate, the studio that produced The Hunger Games, has released two statements - one from Ross and one of their own. Ross' statement says:
Ross behind the camera while filming The Hunger Games
"Despite recent speculation in the media, and after difficult but sincere consideration, I have decided not to direct Catching Fire. 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."
Lionsgate's statement followed that one up with:
"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."
Personally I'm a little bummed that he won't be coming back to direct because I was a fan of his vision of Panem and his directorial choices. Sarah, are you as bummed as I am or no?
Sarah: Well, here’s the thing that always makes me nervous about bringing in a new director for another book series that has reached mega-fame just like Harry Potter and Twilight - when they change directors, the feel of the movie changes. With Twilight it was a much needed change. The first one was so awful. But with Harry Potter, it wasn't as much of a seamless transition.
With the Hunger Games series the first one was so good and about as close to the book as you can get. So to answer your question, no, I'm not bummed, I'm nervous. If this just becomes another book series jumbled up because they couldn't hold on to a director, then I'm going to be pretty upset.
Why couldn't they just lock the guy down like they did for The Lord of the Rings? I know, they were filmed all at once versus split-up, but c'mon, who WOULDN"T want this gig on one man's shoulders for a little bit?
A: I think the answer to your question lies in Ross' statement - the turnaround between writing the script for the sequel, doing pre-production for it and then filming it this fall is all really quick. But I don't know how that's going to be any better for a new director to come in and do the pre-prod and film it this fall. I think money WAS a factor and the schedule of it all is just a nice excuse.
I like your point about new directors in film series. A new director, in most cases, does mean a change of the feel and/or look of the subsequent films - for better or worse. But I think there have been some examples where new directors made the better films, most notably all the directors who followed Chris Columbus in the Harry Potter series, and Irvin Kershner directing The Empire Strikes Back after George Lucas directed A New Hope.
S: Well I would argue with you on the Harry Potter movies, but that's for another blog and the time for that has probably already passed (since the movies ARE done). But you are right; there have been other instances where it has turned out for the good.
Any leads on who will take on the challenge since it won't be too long before they start to film the second one?
A: From what I can find online there aren't any official leads, but Mr. Beaks from Ain't It Cool News tweeted the other day that Paul Haggis (Crash, The Next Three Days) could be the lead to direct, saying, "Mildly informed guess: Paul Haggis will direct Catching Fire."

Haggis holding his Best Picture and Best Screenplay Oscars he won for 2005's Crash

But your question brings up a nice discussion point real quick: Who do you want to see direct Catching Fire?
S: Hmm well those were both great movies, so that could be a good choice. I'm not sure who I would want directing it, but I just really hope they don't drag up a kid's movie director. These are pretty violent books and they should be treated as such. They deal with a lot of dark themes and if they decided to put a "Disney" twist on things, I would be seriously disappointed.
A: Agreed, they need to keep the grittiness and violence of the first one because that's what this series is - gritty and violent. And it only gets more so in the next two books. I hadn't thought of Haggis, who would be a good choice, but the two names that popped in my head when thinking of a replacement for Ross were Martin Campbell and David Yates.
Campbell's most recent film wasn't that great (Green Lantern) but he's also directed two of the best films in Hollywood's 2nd highest grossing franchise - the James Bond films - with GoldenEye and Casino Royale. Along with directing The Mask of Zorro and The Legend of Zorro, I feel Campbell would be able to keep the gritty part intact and superbly handle the action pieces.

Campbell (center) directing Daniel Craig on the set of Casino Royale

Yates, on the other hand, is best known for directing the last four films in the number ONE ighest grossing franchise in film history - the Harry Potter films. Yates directed the last four films, so there's clear evidence that he's more than capable of handling a gigantic book-to-film franchise, young actors, and action pieces. If there's a director that Lionsgate should go after to helm one or both of the next two Hunger Games films, it's Yates.

Yates (left) directing Daniel Radcliffe and Bonnie Wright on the set of HP and the Half-Blood Prince
S: I agree with you on that one. If we went by resume, his last Harry Potter movie would win him the job. With all the deaths and destruction, he would be a good choice. Campbell might not be the right choice simply from looking at his resume because I think his movies are a little campy. They just don't have the right feel.
I guess we will just have to wait and see though. It's going to be a job that several people will surely want!
A: What do you think, readers? Who should be hired to direct Catching Fire? Hit us back with your comments below! And as always, thanks for reading!

Photo Courtesy: Lionsgate, E! OnlineForces of Geek, Harry Potter Wiki

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