MTV talked with Josh Hutcherson at CinemaCon about Gary Ross stepping down as director for Catching Fire and Francis Lawrence stepping in for the job.
Does this mean less shakycam?
Ross certainly brought a novel visual approach to this nascent franchise, eschewing carefully composed shots for a jittery, handheld feel. That said, would anyone be mad if the new Catching Fire director found a tripod? Our commenters were in full revolt against Ross’s shakycam, complaining, “I haven’t left a movie feeling this sick since The Blair Witch Project,” and ”That camera literally made me ill … If the second movie is like that, we won’t be going.” Which brings us to our next point …
The next director may be better at shooting action.
Ross has a background in scripting populist films like Dave and Pleasantville, and the best moments in The Hunger Games are the ones that come before the titular games begin, when Ross can simply put Jennifer Lawrence in a room opposite someone else and have her effectively sell the movie’s emotional stakes with that resolute stare. Unfortunately, when Katniss is finally forced to play the Games, Ross has no particular flair for shooting them. His protagonist’s usual strategy is to climb the nearest tree to avoid her competitors, but since Ross stubbornly refuses to give us wide shots, he’s got no way to convey even a simple establishing detail like how high up she’s climbed. The other action beats fare no better: The camera is so agitated that we can barely even tell what’s going on, let alone where each character is in relation to one another. If Lionsgate could somehow land a new director who’s talented at conveying space in an action sequence — Robert Zemeckis would be our dream choice, and he’s available — we might actually look forward to the Games, instead of dreading them like Katniss does.
Less fidelity to the source material may be a good thing.
Ross worked very closely with Hunger Games author Suzanne Collins on his adaptation, and she’s credited as a co-writer. Though it was good of him to include her, and the film pleased many Hunger Games diehards by being so faithful to the book, we’ve read the screenplay that Billy Ray wrote before Ross came onboard … and it’s notably better. Ray took a few liberties with the source material — his version has a brief prologue set a year before the main story, which lets him begin with action and introduce Katniss in a far more striking way — but he actually manages to nail some plot points that Ross muddled (like the ambiguity of the Katniss-Peeta showmance) by adapting the book in a less literal-minded fashion. Lionsgate was smart to hire Simon Beaufoy to script Catching Firewhile Ross was still busy working on the first movie, and let’s hope that the new director benefits from a similarly fresh perspective.
They just pissed off the actors.
Ross was beloved by series stars Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, and Elizabeth Banks, and by replacing him just a few weeks after The Hunger Games opened, they’ve destabilized a cast that was previously eager to reteam with Ross. While his visual sense was divisive, Ross did a great job with casting the franchise, and he directed Lawrence to give an already iconic performance. Will the actors be as capable in the hands of a hastily hired replacement, and might they resent the studio for it? (Certainly, we don’t need this crew to start acting as surly on their publicity tours as the cast of the Twilight franchise, which never had a single steward to keep them humble.) Continue reading
Jacqueline Emerson talked with Celebuzz, and all three tributes Jackie, Dayo Okeniyi and Alexander Ludwig spoke with E! Online at last night’s 13th Anniversary Party for Nylon Magazine, about Gary Ross leaving The Hunger Games franchise. The stars were shocked and saddened by the news.
Alexander Ludwig with E!:
“One thing about Gary is, he can do everyone’s job better than you can… It’s an honor working with such a talented director. He is an unbelievable guy and an actor’s director, which is amazing…Nobody could really do what Gary did. I honestly believe that 100 percent.”
Dayo Okeniyi with E!:
“I’m heartbroken. He was the perfect person for me for the first movie, because he has this great ability to do the indie thing with the blockbuster thing and I think everybody wants that combination.”
While Okeniyi said he hopes “somehow in the cosmos it works out [that Ross] can do the second movie,” he also had a couple of suggestions for a new director.
“I’d like to see a David Fincher Catching Fire or Darren Aronofsky,” he said. “I think he’d be amazing for the second movie. Be a little bit edgier, darker.”
Jacqueline Emerson with E!, who broke the news to the actress:
“That makes me so sad,” she said. “I’m sorry, I can’t move on yet. I’m still in mourning. I don’t know that anyone else could bring it to life the way that he did.” Continue reading
Gary Ross has released a statement saying that he will be leaving The Hunger Games franchise and will not be directing the sequel Catching Fire. In addition, Lionsgate has formally released a statement as well.
Here is the statement from Gary:
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.
I loved making The Hunger Games – it was the happiest experience of my professional life. Lionsgate was supportive of me in a manner that few directors ever experience in a franchise: they empowered me to make the film I wanted to make and backed the movie in a way that requires no explanation beyond the remarkable results. And 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. Continue reading
ScreenRant recently talked with Gary Ross to give him the opportunity to defend some of the filming decisions he made in The Hunger Games. Ross talks about his choice to not use voiceovers, not making the Muttations out of tributes and more!
This was a tough nut to crack, obviously. The book is so Katniss-centric and relies on her particular understanding of how to play this game. Was there ever a point that you thought about voiceover narration to give us a sense of her internal dialouge?
“No, never. Because I never wanted you to feel like you were in a movie. I wanted you to feel like you were in the games. I wanted you to feel like you were in her world. I wanted you to feel like you were in the Capitol. And the minute I engage in voiceover, I shatter that and I tell you that you’re in a movie and I create a distance I don’t want. I want engagement not distance. And I felt that I could convey everything, especially with an actress like Jen (Lawrence). I mean, I don’t need to articulate in text what Jen is more than capable of doing in subtext, you know?”
Another thing that struck me as sort of a delicate balance is how far into the fantastical you go in the design of the world and the interpretation of the various pieces of science fiction and fantasy that are described in the book. For example I noticed that the “mutts” who appear at the conclusion of the games didn’t have the faces of the defeated (murdered) tributes as they do in the novel.
“We made the decision that they not be specific tributes, because if we did it, we would have been a massive digression at a moment in the movie where I didn’t think it could have afforded that. You’re hurdling toward the end and that would have taken a tremendous amount of room at a time when we didn’t have it. However, I will say that all the mutts, if you really look at them, they’re really half-human and half-dog. If you put a mutt’s face next to a dog’s face, and next to a human face, you really will see that they’re a hybrid of the two. And so we were specific about that. The important thing about the mutts to me was, not specifically that they were tributes, but that they were a creation of the Capitol designed for this particular instrument at this particular moment in the games. Continue reading
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?
We’ve had glimpses of several deviations from the book in The Hunger Games movie, most prominently this addition of President Snow and Seneca Crane talking.
Director Gary Ross talks to Hot Hits on why he decided to add these new scenes:
“I wrote those scenes and I showed them to Suzanne, and she loved them,” he said. “I think that Suzanne would have loved to be able to cut away from Katniss as times, but she’s in a first person narrative so she can’t.”
He continued, “And Donald wrote me these letters that were so compelling about the character that they inspired me to add these scenes. And they were really about a lot of the reasons for the Games, where they came from, how they were instrumental in political control, who Snow was in regard to all that. And it made such a tonne of sense to me.”
Gary Ross continues to prove he’s the perfect director for The Hunger Games in another interview. He spoke with AMC Theatres about what makes the story so beautiful and how lucky he was to have Jennifer Lawrence fill the role of Katniss. Watch the interview below:
“Is it violent?” says director Gary Ross of his PG-13 film. “Yes. Do we back off from what it is? No, we don’t.”
The Hunger Games is featured on the cover of the latest issue of Entertainment Weekly. Here’s what we can expect in the issue:
While we can’t make clock turn any faster, we can offer fans of Suzanne Collins’ best-selling dystopian trilogy (and newcomers, too) a deep, behind-the-scenes look into the making of the film, from conception to casting, filming to marketing. Continue reading
EPIX News spoke with Gary Ross, Liam Hemsworth, Elizabeth Banks and Woody Harrelson about being fans of the book, shooting the Reaping scene and more.
Source: The Hob