Gary Ross Officially Off Catching Fire

That’s it, folks: after a few days’ worth of back-and-forth over whether Gary Ross would return to direct Hunger Games sequel Catching Fire, you can officially fire the cannon on his involvement. He’s out.

Last week, the team over at The Playlist brought the first word that Ross could be moving on from the franchise he has helped to birth, which was quickly countered by studio reps from Lionsgate as negotiations continued. But his departure was made official today with a statement. "As a writer and a director, I simply don't have the time I need to write and prep the movie I would have wanted to make because of the fixed and tight production schedule," says Ross.

It seems clear that he’s sorry to go, but a deal could not be reached. "I loved making The Hunger Games – it was the happiest experience of my professional life. Lionsgate was supportive of me in a manner that few directors ever experience in a franchise: they empowered me to make the film I wanted to make and backed the movie in a way that requires no explanation beyond the remarkable results. And contrary to what has been reported, negotiations with Lionsgate have not been problematic. They have also been very understanding of me through this difficult decision."

So now the job is open again. Lionsgate has a Catching Fire script by Simon Beaufoy and wants the film shooting later this year for a November 22, 2013 release date. Agents, start your phone engines!

Peter Oberth
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