It’s clear from watching The Hunger Games how utterly engrossed and enthusiastic director Gary Ross was about Suzanne Collins‘ books. He faithfully translated almost everything from page to screen, and then created visuals of the Capitol that proved how much he had taken the books to heart. That’s why it’s upsetting to report that Ross has decided not to return for the sequel Catching Fire.
IndieWire broke the story (thanks to HG Girl on Fire for bringing it to our attention): Ross has already formally given Lionsgate and Summit notice. And while rumors are that he wanted more money, IndieWire argues that it’s simply not Ross’ style to spend too much time in the same genre. With Catching Fire not even coming out til late 2013 and the possibility of two Mockingjay movies, that’s a long time to spend in one franchise, even one as nuanced as The Hunger Games. Plus, not to be the guy and draw Twilight comparisons, but it is worth nothing that each of those books had a different director movie-to-movie. Same with Harry Potter, now that I think about it. Ultimately, The Hunger Games movies will benefit from being expressed through the perspectives of a variety of artists.
What’s interesting is that both Catching Fire and Mockingjay also spend a lot of time in the Capitol, though in varying ways (minor spoilers): Katniss and Peeta spend at least half of the second movie bullshitting the Capitol citizens into believing they’re actually in love, whereas the final book/movie will see Katniss and the rebellion storming the castle, so to speak.
Just a few weeks ago, Ross spoke with MTV News about how Catching Fire would be markedly different from its predecessor. With hindsight we can now note how he never speaks in absolutes, saying only that he’s amassed some ideas while shooting the first movie:
“In terms of the cinematic differences in the way I might shoot the movie, I shot this in a very specific way that’s very different than most franchises are shot, obviously, and that had a lot to do with the urgency of what’s going on and Katniss’ point of view. I have some ideas about how to do Catching Fire slightly differently, but I don’t want to share them yet. Not because I’m being evasive, but just because they’re not fully baked. But yes, I think it will look and feel slightly different from the first.”
The one facet he did give some specifics to was the new Arena, which is much more twisted than what we saw in the first movie:
“The Arena in the second book is tropical and the arena in [the first] book is forests, so that in and of itself will make for a different wardrobe on the part of the crew.”
So in addition to the Catching Fire casting call — including who will play hunky District 4 victor/tribute Finnick Odair — we’ll also be eagerly awaiting news of which director gets chosen to helm the sequel.