'Hunger Games' director Gary Ross announced last week he would not be a part of the popular franchise's sequel, 'Catching Fire.' His replacement is none other then Francis Lawrence, who directed pictures like 'Water For Elephants,' 'I Am Legend' and numerous music videos for Britney Spears, Jennifer Lopez, and Green Day.
Deadline reported that Lionsgate, the studio behind the 'Hunger Games' franchise' were considering Lawrence (no relation to star Jennifer Lawrence who plays Katniss Everdeen) and 'Moneyball' director Bennett Miller. Miller was very interested in the project, but scheduling conflicts became an issue because his 'Foxcatcher' project with Steve Carell was set to film around the same time.
Lionsgate wants to start production in late August. Production needs to start in August before Jennifer Lawrence has to leave to film the 'X-Men: First Class' sequel in January. Fox, the studio behind the superhero reboot, is looking to get the film out early in 2013. Afterwards, Jennifer Lawrence would have to start filming 'Catching Fire' immediately.
Lawrence was the top contender for the role because of his open schedule and his experience with highly stylized effects.
Lawrence has showcased his highly stylized skills in music videos of famous pop stars. Lawrence directed Lady Gaga's 'Bad Romance,' Jennifer Lopez's 'Waiting for Tonight' and Britney Spears' famous 'I'm a Slave 4 U.' Besides 'Water for Elephants' and 'I Am Legend,' Lawrence also directed 2005 DC Comics adaptation of 'Constantine,' reported MTV.
In Lawrence, the studio apparently believes it has found a director capable of balancing the high-octane action, personal relationships and social commentary that many critics praised Ross for capturing in 'The Hunger Games,' wrote Ben Fritz and Nicole Sperling of the LA Times.
Scheduling conflicts are what forced the first 'Hunger Games' director to quit the franchise.
Despite recent speculation in the media, and after difficult but sincere consideration, I have decided not to direct 'Catching Fire,' Ross statement. 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, the statement continued. 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.
'The Hunger Games' was No. 1 at the box office for four weeks in a row. The film has made about $341 million domestically and $535 million worldwide, reported Forbes. No challenger seems to be able to knock the movie off its top spot.
'Catching Fire' is set to open on theaters November 22, 2013.