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Exclusive: Gary Ross Leaves ‘The Hunger Games’ Franchise, Won’t Direct ‘Catching Fire’ Sequel

Exclusive: Gary Ross Leaves 'The Hunger Games' Franchise, Won't Direct 'Catching Fire' Sequel

While this morning it was reported that Lionsgate and Fox worked out their scheduling issues to allow Jennifer Lawrence to shoot “Catching Fire” and the “X-Men: First Class” sequel essentially back-to-back, it looks like before cameras can start rolling on “The Hunger Games” sequel this fall, the studio will need to find a director. The Playlist has learned that Gary Ross has officially exited the franchise and will not direct the sequel, formally giving Lionsgate and Summit his notice earlier this week, that he will not be coming back.

Though recent trade reports have spun the story as being an issue mostly about money, that’s pretty much a small part of the motivation. Ross has never been a filmmaker that repeats himself (going from satire in “Pleasantville” to horse racing drama in “Seabiscuit” and action in “The Hunger Games“) and we’re told the burning desire simply isn’t there to spend another couple of years with Katniss in the Capitol (evidently, he also liked the first book best). And while the lowball salary offer probably didn’t help, Ross already has a fairly lucrative career as a screenwriter (and rewriter) and money isn’t really the issue. Simply put, the filmmaker is looking to change things up for his next effort.

While the details on what that project will be are still coming together, we’re told it will be something he has written that (ironically) will earn him a better payday that he would’ve received on “Catching Fire” (and it’s possible it’s this Outback” project) Essentially, it’s a win-win for Ross, who gets to move on to a project he developed for his fourth feature, and will allow him to do something different.

The hunt will be on to find a replacement soon. “Catching Fire” shoots this fall and will open on November 22, 2013.

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Gary Ross is an idiot!
He says he doesn't like repeating himself. So why the hell did he sign on to make the first movie of a trilodgy?
I'm glad he's gone.


2013?!!!!!!!!!!!! Can't wait that long!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :( BTW I <3 JOSH!!!!!!


The shaky cam was so damned awful sitting in the third row from the screen in regards to motion sickness, because we were at the midnight premiere, that the 12 year old girl sitting next to me got up to the end of the row and vomited twice in the aisle. I still feel so bad for her and it was awfully good timing because I had just thought to myself, "Man, I'm really starting to feel nauseous". I was sick for the rest of the night. Along with character development that I felt was lacking, I am so glad that Ross is out as a director.

Mark Smith

I am with the "glad he's gone" crowd…missed too many useful parts of the book, added a few needless parts, etc. The shaky camera was not implemented well – I heard lots of groans from audience who ate too much popcorn/drank too much pop, before the show started…


THANK GOD! I'm really hoping this is true because I hated how all the important and most exciting scenes were shortened and rushed so much! Oh and the stupid, shaky camera! I don't care if it was suppose to be in Katniss' perspective, it was horribly annoying.


Gutted he is leaving. I thought he did a great job on The Hunger Games and was looking forward to seeing his view for the next film. I liked the shakiness in the film. It made it more real and unique. Other films are shot so simply, and this was something new and interesting to watch. It made you focus more to the action and was greatly used on the cornucopia scene where the bloodbath was happening. I'm really sad that he's not doing the next film. I would of liked to seen a series where style was the same throughout all films in a franchise.


Sad that he's not coming back, many fans loved what he did to the movie, but this is actually what i wanted… A new director, I'm not really a fan of his too much shaking camera shots, and i firmly believe he could have developed the characters and established some of the scenes more, sooo yeah, i can live with this :)


wow. did a Playlist post ever get THIS MANY comments? I couldn't even start reading them yet…


Guys… Stick to what we like you for. You're never going to break something like this from Williamsburg before Deadline does. But think about it this way: they're never going to break anything about Bela Tarr or The Dardennes, so you definitely have your niche.

Love you guys, just don't get too big for your britches unless your revelation is actually true.


i liked his Shakey-Camera effect. too bad he's leaving


@HUNGERGAMESGIRL I agree with you with Ross. He did miss important stuff in the movie and it was like shacking so much you could barely see


@ilovejoshhutcherson2023 josh is staying and so is liam and jen. Im kinda happy ross dropped out cause i didnt like the camera shaking and he missed some important parts of the movie.


I VOLUNTEER! I volunteer as director!

Matt Stone

The Hunger Games is an awesome movie. Shaky camera? Who cares. Any number of directors can take over and do a great job. They have great source material. Different directors worked on the Potter and Twilight films. Stop gripping people. I can't wait to see Catching Fire.


Alfonso Cuarón is who you want for the next one.


THG was a great film, and Ross' adaptation of the book was almost perfect in my eyes. I'm a bit nervous about the upcoming films now…


Is it bad that I don't really care? I mean people on twitter are freaking out but I don't actually care. Gary Ross didn't do a bad job but the characters could've been developed better. And I think they took out parts of the book that could be important for later movies. Also I didn't believe that Peeta actually loved Katniss in the movie. It was like it was for show. So I just hope they get a good director to actually develope the characters and moods and stuff.


They should get Michael Bay . . . NOT.


Thank goodness – no more motion sickness movies. Maybe they can get Peter Jackson and the character development will improve too.


I really hope this is just a late April Fools joke… Even with the shaky camera it was a good movie…


wait..but on the T.V. it said JOSH dropped out….WHT? SO like crying cuz hes not gonnaplay peeta?so WHO dropped out??


It makes sense. I didn't think he would return for catching fire. He never repeats himself


Well, let's hope the new director will use and like to use a steady cam or at least a tripod, i loved the movie, but I had to turn away a few times because it was giving me motion sickness. I hate when movies are filmed like that.


While I appreciate Gary Ross's passion for the source material, it was a pedestrian adaption at best. The cinematography worked for D12 and the Arena, but otherwise detracted from what could have been a more gripping story. Hopefully a new director will not only bring intensity without shakiness, but a screenplay for Catching Fire needs some depth to the characters, which Haymitch and Peeta, to a lesser extent, desperately lacked. Also, without spoilers, the Arena in CF has to reflect the Gamemakers' ability to alter the weather and environment as a whole – the lack of hot/cold/rain/hunger/thirst in Hunger Games was the biggest flaw I saw.


It could be an epic movie, like, say, the first Star Wars, but the director botched it. Hopefully the next director will know when to hold the camera steady and when to let it go shaky. The movie felt like cheaply shot when it was shaky all the time. It drove people nuts. It left so much to be desired. So it is good to have a new director.

Oogle monster

Variety is going to be SO pissed you guys broke the story. You know how upset the Variety boys get when they aren't the first ones to tweet: EXCLUSIVE! BREAKING! CLICK HERE!!!

Joe S

This is great news since the first movie was so mediocre. The only people who are claiming to love it are those that read the book first and already have the emotional connections to the characters.

For the rest of us, the movie didn't do the legwork needed to get us to care one bit about what was going on. See ya Gary!


Hmmmm … the more I think and hear about this, the more fishy it seems. The statement in this article about Gary simply "not having the desire" to stick with the franchise makes ZERO sense. ZERO. We KNOW from EVERY interview he’s done that he was FULLY planning on doing Catching Fire and he fought hard to direct this franchise from the beginning. We also know that he even promised his cast that he was in it for the long haul. So it’s clear that the reason given in this article is absolutely NOT true.

Now, if this is all about money, I get it, BUT … it still doesn’t totally add up. Reason being – We all now know that this thing is a JUGGERNAUT financially. I just saw a report that it’s even still beating Titanic 3D, which opened Weds, at the box office. If this was ALL about money, it makes zero sense that they would not be able to come to a compromise on numbers. I mean come ON. It’s not THAT difficult if it’s just a numbers game, given the INSANE amount of money this is bringing in for Lionsgate.

What I worry about is the reports I hear of the Summit brass taking over this division of the studio, or however this all works. Are they trying to change directions in some respects or forcing creative decisions on Gary that he doesn’t agree with?? It could be possible. If anything, that’s what makes the most sense to me by FAR. But even if that’s the case, could these Summit people really be THAT frakking stupid?? Really?? Even if they don’t give a crap about anything but money, don’t they understand that losing Gary puts the ENTIRE project at risk?? From schedule to actors to everything?? They could SO easily lose Woody and lord only knows who else. I heard that it's only the main three cast members that are actually under contract, but I'm not sure if that's true. Either way I just … don’t get it. It doesn’t add up, at ALL. Something strange and VERY FISHY is afoot. And sadly I think we’ll be wondering about this all weekend at the very least.


Thank goodness he's gone. Maybe the next director will use a frickin' tripod!


Have any of you came to the realization that only the three stars signed on for Catching Fire? A lot of big time name actors who were in The Hunger Games signed on because they worked or wanted to work with Gary Ross. Listen to interviews with Woody H., Donald, S., E. Banks, and/or S. Tucci and you will see their admiration is with his story telling and directing. I seriously doubt that any of the four noted above, not including L. Kravitz, will sign on for Catching Fire if Gary Ross isn't involved and they were all pivotal in their roles. This would be awful.


Switching directors for franchise, ala Harry Potter or Twilight, is par for the course. Not sure why this is surprising.

Oogle monster

I second the Spike Lee and Gavin O'Connor comment. It would be nice to see a woman direct the next film… maybe Patti Jenkins? She has an eye for the gritty. I was just watching Ross on Charlie Rose the other day and he seemed only interested in the first book, so this makes sense. Oh well, I'm sure a million and one other filmmakers are lining up to replace him.

I like this Series a lot

Lionsgate isn't going to go after a big name director. I'm positive Gary Ross saw the writing on the wall in regards to any kind've raise and probably figured Liosngate was going to be more hands on with Catching Fire.

They aren't going to pay the millions up millions that go with a popular name filmmaker – someone who could possibly strongarm the film into being THEIR film & not a sequel – so I'd say Bryan Singer, Alfonso Cuaron and those guys are out. Besides – they're all busy with their respective projects and won't be available until Mockingjay most likely.

I'd hypothesize Liosngate will go after someone similar to Gary Ross. A proven solid filmmaker who doesn't allow any flourishes to get in the way of the narative. A filmmaker with a real sense of storytelling and character above all else.

I'd place my vote behind GAVIN O'CONNOR. Like Ross, he's a proven solid filmmaker – was I the only one who went gaga for Warrior- who can pull out great performances and tone out of a story.


Gary Ross's casting choices were so perfect. Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Elizabeth Banks… that man knew what he was doing. Now God knows who will be chosen to play Finnick, probably the most important casting choice in the whole series… RIP Hunger Games Franchise. RIP. :'(


The article is correct, this is the umpteenth article I seen saying this. Like this one
Doesn't matter too much, I felt the director was pretty damn shoddy in just film design alone for this (I won't even go into the adaptation pieces). I'd like to see someone else take a crack at this.


Nicholas winding refn or steven soderbergh


This is a crap. I don't believe it for a second.




It'd be nice if the article revealed a source. How valid is this?


I really, really hope this is untrue. Although I've seen several articles, I don't think there could be a better director than Gary. He did such a great job with this one and I don't want it to disintegrate into a "Twilight" type movie franchise..


This article doesn't seem very reliable… This doesn't sound believable. I truly hope it's fake, because I would die if he doesn't direct Catching Fire! He did such a great job with The Hunger Games </3


Although I think he did an admirable job, I'm honestly not too concerned about this. The Harry Potter franchise changed directors numerous times.


Nope. I seriously think this is a fake article. Gary loves the series, the cast, and the project too much to leave. He's the one who read the books and then sat down to make it happen with the producer. I really doubt that after all that work he'd just give up like that and especially after all the success. Don't believe articles like this until you get an OFFICIAL word from Gary himself or Lionsgate. I truly believe this is all just one big fat lie.


Is this super reliable information? It just doesn't make sense. Gary Ross talked so excitedly about filming Catching Fire, saying he had so many ideas about it and everything. He even said in several interviews that he was committed to it….for this article to say that he just wanted to do something different…I don't know…it just sounds inconsistent. And super sudden, at that. Am I naive to wait for a more familiar source to confirm this information, before I decide to believe it?


This is the best news ever!!!! Maybe this time they can afford a tripod for the camera and I won't get nauseated from the experience iPod watching the film. From now on I will notice what films Gary Ross directs and avoid them like the plague.


aww…i just hope the next director will be good…it will be a whole lot different feel for Catching Fire then…yes i don't like the shaky cam but if the next movie will be awful then i will still prefer Gary Ross i still think he did a good job on the hunger games…


Michael Bay, anyone? <—— sarcasm




Bummer. I liked "Hunger Games." I thought Ross got the idea of it. I am now kinda' bummed. I really would hate for this to become "Twilight" -esque.


Nice exclusive! Would that Gary Ross mystery project happen to be OUTBACK with Carey Mulligan?


They can find someone better suited to the material. And good riddance to the shaky cam.


At least this guarantees an end to the shaky camera effect for this franchise.

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