We may have a bigger problem than President Snow in the land of Panem. With a bonafide hit on his hands, one would think that it’s a no-brainer that ‘The Hunger Games’ writer/director Gary Ross would return for a sequel alongside his stars Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, and Liam Hemsworth despite not being contractually obligated to. However, THR is saying that negotiations to lock down Ross for the adaptation of ‘Catching Fire’, the next installment of Suzanne Collins’ best-selling young adult series, have been quite tough.
For the first film in the series, Ross ended up taking a relatively low $3 million to write and direct ‘The Hunger Games’ plus a 5% of backend revenue. For the second film, the visionary that played a huge role in making the first film a hit is looking to get a significant raise more on par with the salary of a seasoned, Oscar-nominated filmmaker such as Ross.
Lionsgate is in a rush to lock in the director so that they can shoot next fall in order to meet the announced November 2013 release date for ‘Catching Fire’. The studio already has a script written by Simon Beaufoy, the writer of ‘Slumdog Millionaire,’ that they’d like Ross to revise, but with negotiations still ongoing, no one can start work on the sequel.
To add to Lionsgate’s worries, if they don’t lock in the director soon and start production, Fox may exercise their option for actress Jennifer Lawrence to return for the sequel to ‘X-men: First Class’, which already has director Matthew Vaughn locked in to helm the project, but no release date set yet. If Lawrence goes back to playing Mystique, then she might not get back into Katniss’ shoes in time for November 2013.
While it’s not uncommon for franchises to change directors from film to film, it’s favorable to keep one director on for as long as possible, especially if they generated such a critically and publically acclaimed hit. THR sources are confident that it will all work out in the end though. “Ultimately, it will be difficult, and yet everybody will do the sane thing, which is to work it out,” says one source. “Everybody will end up unhappy in their own way. It’s just the nature of the beast.”
Ross has already shown that he delivers quality work that delivers positive results. Sure, ‘The Hunger Games’ would have been a box-office hit no matter what because of their fandom, but the positive response all around is largely attributed to the director’s role in the film. Hopefully both sides can come to an agreement soon so that we won’t have to wait too long to see what comes of Katniss, Peeta, and Gale. You know, without actually picking up the books.