Because [hella dramatic cannon noise] Gary Ross is out. After guiding the first flick in the franchise to just ungodly sums of money (like, at this point, Lionsgate could probably breed, birth, and train an army of bloodthirsty murder-unicorns and still have enough left over for a Cinnabon), Ross has announced he will not be returning to the franchise for the sequel, Catching Fire. The news didn’t come completely out of the blue, as reports had already been circulating that Ross and Lionsgate were butting heads over his salary demands. But, at least according to the statements from Gary and the studio, the final decision to bounce on the franchise had nothing to do with money.
Says Ross, “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 ... 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." And added Lionsgate, “This will not be the end of our relationship, as we consider Ross to be part of the Lionsgate family and look forward to working with him in the future.” This means Hunger Games is repeating the protocol of its two predecessors in tween-hearts-and-minds domination, the Twilight and Harry Potter franchises, both of which shuffled through directors over their runs without skipping a beat. And soon, the question will be, who’ll replace Gary? For most "responsible" media outlets it might be a bit too early in the game to speculate — but it’s not too early for Grantland! My sources say Spike Lee, Terrence Malick, and the reanimated ghost of Orson Welles are all in the running for the hottest gig in town. Go on, tell everyone!