Lionsgate apparently tried its very best to hold it all together, but to no avail.
There was even speculation earlier this week that perhaps Gary Ross would agree to stay on after all, but he will apparently be leaving the Hunger Games franchise behind.
Catching Fire - the next story in the wildly popular series by Suzanne Collins - will have to find a new director ASAP.
As we previously reported on TG, there was initially speculation that Ross wanted more money up front to come back onboard, yet some official reports are nopw claiming it was more a matter of scheduling.
Once word officially came down, Deadline reported that Lionsgate was "shocked" things couldn't be worked out.
As Nikki Finke writes, the deal was slated to be closed right after Easter, but Ross declined, stating: "After difficult but sincere consideration, I have decided not to direct Catching Fire. As a writer and 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."
And indeed, as Variety reports, with Ross leaving Games, Lionsgate now has to hustle with only 19 months left to get the movie ready for next November 23 release date, which Lionsgate is apparently insistent on "holding firm to."
Catching Fire was going to shoot late this summer to make the date, and allow Jennifer Lawrence to film the next X-Men movie in January. However, the script for Catching Fire still isn't done, and now Lionsgate will be forced to hunt for a director, which the studio will have to find over the next four months if it wants to stay on schedule.
Recently, Tbreak put together a list of potential directors who could take over The Hunger Games, but the list didn't include an obvious (and pretty good) choice: Joss Whedon. Indeed, Whedon was asked about it by Variety at the premiere for The Cabin in the Woods and said:
"You know, I love the books and I really love the movie. I think Gary Ross [did] them all beautifully, and who wouldn't want to work with that cast, honestly? And I think the second book is really exciting.
"But I've been walking in somebody else's world for a long time. Watching Cabin reminds me what it's like when something comes purely from your own brain, how much fun that is. It'd be temping as hell, not that they'd necessarily ask, but no, I feel like it's time to go back into the 'Insane-o' place and see what else comes out."