You win some and you lose some, my friends. Hot on the heels of the news that Jennifer Lawrence will shoot ‘X-men First Class 2’ in January 2013 so that she can shoot ‘The Hunger Games’ follow-up ‘Catching Fire’ in the fall, we’ve just gotten word that director Gary Ross definitely won’t be returning for the sequel.

According to The Playlist (via /Film), Ross has officially exited the franchise. Apparently, he resigned earlier this week, before the trades began reporting on negotiations between the director and Lionsgate.

Although money may have played a major factor in the reason for his exit, it’s said that another reason for the departure is that Ross is a filmmaker who never repeats himself. He went from satire in ‘Pleasantville’ to drama with ‘Seabiscuit’ to action with ‘The Hunger Games’, and he’s not looking to repeat his previous outing. The situation that Ross has found himself is a win-win for him. Because of ‘The Hunger Games’ cash cow, he gets to move on to another feature that he has written that will earn him a better payday than ‘Catching Fire’ would have brought him.

The losers here are the citizens of Panem. Ross had a clear vision of the world that Suzanne Collins created, and fans embraced that vision. Whoever takes over the director’s chair will likely try to establish their own vision in place of what was already done, and not necessarily for the better.

While this news is rather unfortunate, this goes to show that Gary Ross really knows how to play the Hollywood game. Well played, sir. Well played.

Now it’s up to Lionsgate to find a new director ASAP. Surely a list of potential replacements will hit the internet next week, if not earlier. They’ll have to move swiftly so that production will stay on track for the November 22, 2013 release date.

Update 4/7/2012: Deadline is now reporting that Ross has not removed himself as director for ‘Catching Fire’. We’ll keep you updated on the details as things are cleared up.