About a week after Gary Ross gracefully exited the Hunger Games franchise, Lionsgate has lined up a new director to handle the sequel, Catching Fire: Francis Lawrence, whose recent films cover the bases from dystopia (I Am Legend) to working with teen idols (Water for Elephants). He beat out Bennett Miller (Moneyball), Duncan Jones (Source Code), and several other directors.
So obviously you know Lawrence’s work, but we’d be hard-pressed to describe a signature style he carries from film to film. Here are the five facts you should know about the newest member of the Hunger Games crew, so you can analyze this decision at parties and scrutinize his progress when Catching Fire starts shooting in August.
1. Not to discount the quality of his work, but part of the reason that Lawrence was chosen (says THR) was because of his open schedule. Other than a TV movie called Gotham – yet another “magic in the real world” procedural — Lawrence didn’t have any big projects lined up.
2. His early directing work mostly consisted of videos and documentaries for pop stars like Britney Spears, Jennifer Lopez, and OK Go. His first feature film was 2005′s Constantine starring Keanu Reeves.
3. Despite his music video background, Lawrence has said, “I love to build worlds.” He’s already brought us zombie-infested New York City — shot in Manhattan — and the 1930s circus world, so it’s clear that he pays special attention to a film’s visuals. I wouldn’t be surprised if he drew on his experiences of working with music stars when he handles all of the reality-TV commentary in Catching Fire: Katniss and Peeta needing to keep up the romance by getting “engaged,” plus the fact that the Quarter Quell resembles “All-Stars” editions of reality series like Survivor and Big Brother.