After director Gary Ross officially announced his exit from the ‘Hunger Games’ franchise, Lionsgate was left with the undesirable task of finding a formidable replacement who can work fast enough to keep the production on track to shoot in the fall before Jennifer Lawrence trades in her bow and arrow for blue skin and red hair for ‘X-Men: First Class 2’. /Film is reporting that the studio has now compiled a list of about 7 or 8 names of male directors to helm ‘Catching Fire’. While not all the names have been revealed, among the names in the hat are Alfonso Cuarón, David Cronenberg, and Alejandro González Iñárritu.

Based on their bodies of work, one can assume that Lionsgate is looking for someone who can work well with darker material. They’re also all acclaimed and seasoned directors on the level, if not higher, than Gary Ross. In addition to being able to work well in this time crunch for preproduction, the director who ends up landing the gig will have to please source material author Suzanne Collins, who is rightfully concerned about artistic integrity over box office buy rates.

While all three are capable of taking over for ‘Catching Fire’, my guess is that Alfonso Cuarón will be the best choice if they can get him. He already has experience in stepping into a young adult franchise after the original director bows out and producing favorable results because he was tapped for ‘Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban’ after Chris Columbus, the director of the first two Potter films, stepped down.

However, that doesn’t take away from the achievements of David Cronenberg, and Alejandro González Iñárritu. Cronenberg is widely considered as one of the greatest directors there is. He’s topped many best directors lists over the years, and has garnered much praise for his films ‘The Fly’ and ‘Crash’. Iñárritu is the first Mexican director to be nominated for the Academy Award for Best Director and by the Directors Guild of America for Best Director. He gained a lot of success in his home country of Mexico, and then came over to Hollywood where he gained recognition for his film ‘Babel’.

Lionsgate sure has their work cut out for them. I wonder what other names are on the shortlist for ‘Catching Fire’. Are there any directors that you’d like to see tackle the next chapter of Katniss and Peeta’s adventures in Panem? Let us know in the comments section!