We’ve been under the assumption that Gary Ross would be back to direct Catching Fire ever since he told Fandango he’s “committed” to the sequel (and recently talked to Moviefone about his excitement to work with screenwriter Simon Beaufoy), but it looks like that’s not 100% locked up, due (of course) to money. According to The Hollywood Reporter:
Unlike stars Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth, Ross is not signed for a sequel. And negotiations for him to do the first movie were “a terrible experience,” says a source with knowledge of the discussions, because Ross is a seasoned filmmaker (Pleasantville, Seabiscuit) and Lionsgate isn’t accustomed to paying seasoned-filmmaker fees. He ended up taking a relatively low $3 million to write (with Billy Ray and novelist Suzanne Collins) and direct. But he will collect a very remunerative 5 percent of backend.
Sources say Ross, 55, would like a significant raise for a second Hunger Games, but Lionsgate didn’t kick off negotiations with him until about three weeks before the first film’s March 23 opening. By then, with tracking suggesting a huge opening weekend, Ross and his CAA reps were in no hurry to bargain.
Lionsgate has a script from Simon Beaufoy (Slumdog Millionaire) that Ross has yet to revise. The studio is in a rush to start the next film in the fall, though Fox might upset Lionsgate’s plan by exercising its option on Lawrence to start another X-Men movie first.
… Nonetheless, sources involved with the franchise are betting that Ross will return. “Ultimately, it will be difficult, and yet everybody will do the sane thing, which is to work it out,” says one. “Everybody will end up unhappy in their own way. It’s just the nature of the beast.”
You can read the full story at The Hollywood Reporter, as well as their suggestions on who could take Gary’s place on Catching Fire if needed. However, it sounds like even though they’re in some tough negotiations for Catching Fire, the good news is that they’re expected to work everything out for Gary to return.
Personally, we love Gary’s enthusiasm for the series and his work on The Hunger Games, so we’d be upset if he was replaced for the sequel. But let us know what you think! Do you want Gary back for Catching Fire, or would you be open to a new director?