As The Hunger Games continues its successful run at the box office, there are reports that negotiations for the second film - Catching Fire - didn’t exactly go smoothly between Lionsgate and Games director Gary Ross.
While I’m not sure if playing hardball is what made Gary Ross leave Hunger Games, if in fact he has, it would definitely be too bad if he doesn't come back.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Ross got lowballed up front, $3 million to write and direct, but he’s got 5% of the backend, which should add up to a nice paycheck.
Ross reportedly asked for a bigger pay day up front this time, something more in tune with what an A-list director as himself makes, which is somewhere in the $10 million range.
Lionsgate was also in a rush to get everything locked down so the shoot for Catching Fire can start in the Fall, and make the planned November 22, 2013 release date. Yet once the news hit that Ross wasn't coming back, Indiewire claimed it wasn’t so much about money but that "Ross has never been a filmmaker that repeats himself," writes Kevin Jagernauth. "We’re told the burning desire simply isn’t there to spend another couple of years with Katniss in the Capitol," or perhaps Lionsgate couldn’t come up with enough money to make it worth his while.
It should also be noted that the original Twilight director Catherine Hardwicke was jettisoned from the films, and the series went on just fine without her. Hardwicke is nowhere near the director Ross is, but is Lionsgate trying to prove a point that it’s all about the franchise, and the director’s disposable?
As this story was being finalized, the news hit that Ross may not be canned from the Hunger Games after all. The headline hit New York magazine’s Vulture column, "Director Still Attached to Hunger Games Sequel, For Now," and that reports of him being off the project "might have been a bit premature." As it turns out, Deadline was the primary site for some pretty fast spin control once the reports spread like crazy. Mike Fleming and Nikki Finke both reported "these Internet reports that described his withdrawal as definitive are simply not accurate…Unless the deal making completely implodes, we expect to see Ross behind the camera when the sequel gets underway."
Now there’s clearly no Hunger Games without Jennifer Lawrence, her scheduling between X-Men and the next Catching Fire has thankfully been worked out, and she’ll have plenty of time to do both franchises no problem. As to who will be directing her, it will be interesting to see how it plays out. Lionsgate could hire someone to bring a unique, or darker vision to the sequel, or hire a serviceable hack who’ll get the job done, but deliver nothing special. Just please for God’s sake don’t hire Brett Ratner…