Mockingjay has a screenwriter; Dawn of the Planet of the Apes has a director

Posted by David Konow

Both Rise of the Planet of the Apes and The Hunger Games have hit similar bumps in the road by losing their directors.

It’s now official that Rise director Rupert Wyatt will not be returning for the sequel, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, and similar to when Gary Ross left the Hunger Games, a replacement had to be found quick to keep the sequel on track and on schedule.

With big event films, sequels and franchises, the studios set up iron clad release dates, and both Catching Fire and Dawn have tight schedules so they’ll make their respective November 22, 2013 and May 23, 2014 release dates. Both Ross and Wyatt were uncomfortable working on such inflexible production schedules, so Francis Lawrence (I Am Legend) is currently filming Catching Fire, and Matt Reeves has just been announced to take over for the Apes.

Reeves directed Cloverfield, and he was picked from a potential list of J Blakeson (The Disappearance of Alice Creed), Juan Carlos Fresnadillo (28 Weeks Later), Jeff Nichols (Take Shelter), Rian Johnson (Looper), and Guillermo Del Toro. The hot screenwriting team behind Rise, Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver, also penned the script for Dawn, which Fox is reportedly very happy with, hence the next Apes flick being on the fast track at the studio.

While the director situation has been straightened out with The Hunger Games, at least for Catching Fire, apparently there was no screenwriter in place for Mockingjay, which will be a two-parter, until now. The Hollywood Reporter recently confirmed that Danny Strong, who wrote the HBO adaptation of the political book Game Change, and just won an Emmy for it, will be penning the Mockingjay script.

Like Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, the Mockingjay writing gig was a much sought after assignment, and also up for it was Drew Goddard (Cabin in the Woods, Cloverfield), Chris Terrio (Argo), and Vanessa Taylor (Game of Thrones). The Catching Fire screenplay was written by Simon Beaufoy (Slumdog Millionaire) and Michael Arndt (Toy Story 3).

Mockingjay Part 1 is due to hit theaters on November 21, 2014, while Part Two goes live on November 20, 2015.