Hunger Games loses director

Earlier this week, we reported that Gary Ross, the director of Lionsgate’s Hunger Games, was  “renegotiating” his involvement in the second film (Catching Fire).

 We now have word that the talks – which didn’t go so well – are officially over.

As you may recall, Ross wrote and directed the first film on a relatively low payment scheme. Lionsgate, notorious in Hollywood for paying talent less than the rest of the industry, only gave Ross $3 million plus 5% gross, no pittance surely, especially considering the success of the film, but not very much for a director of his stature.

The cast, of course, will be back no matter what the pay. They’ve already signed three-picture deals, and there is no renegotiating to be done for them.

However, Ross is a different story, and, apparently, Lionsgate didn’t agree to whatever the popular director thought he was worth.

Of course, the studio likely feels that it has a quite a bit of leeway here considering the expected success of the franchise. Whatever writer and/or director they hire to replace Ross, the film will be a wild success, regardless.

Of course, there is no way of knowing how much Ross asked for or how the talks went. All we know – for now – is that they didn’t come to an agreement.

We also got word this morning that the window for filming The Hunger Games: Catching Fire has opened up just a little a bit. Originally, due to a prior contractual obligation with 20th Century Fox, the Hunger Games star, Jennifer Lawrence, would have had to drop whatever she was doing and shoot the X-Men: First Class sequel whenever production kicked off.

Fox was originally slated to start shooting the film this fall, but with Catching Fire not able to begin shooting until the end of August, Lionsgate would have been faced with three choices: condense the shooting into only a couple of months, wait until after X-Men is done, or do the film without Lawrence.

All seem like perfectly terrible ideas, but with Lawrence’s contract with Fox taking precedent over her contract with Lionsgate, there was not much the latter studio could do.

Fortunately, however, Fox recently agreed to delay shooting on the X-Men film until January, more than doubling the time Lionsgate has to shoot Catching Fire. True, it’s still not as much time as they would probably like, but as long as the studio finds a new director and writer in time, they should be able to get it done.

Catching Fire is in pre-production with filming set to begin in late August. If all goes according to plan, it’ll hit theaters November 22nd, 2013.