The Conversation: Who Should Direct 'Catching Fire'?

The Conversation: Who Should Direct 'Catching Fire'?

Apr 06, 2012

Only two days after The Conversation looked at the debate on whether or not Gary Ross should return to the Hunger Games series to helm Catching Fire, news broke that he has in fact taken himself out of the runnnig for the sequel gig. Hopefully all those fans quoted in the previous post aren't really going to die or jump off a bridge or do anything else drastic. It does appear there's a campaign to get him back, though, as indicated by the trendingness of the Twitter hashtag #WEWANTGARYROSS. And now a Twitition

Also, a poll at Empire has the reponse "Come back, Gary Ross!" winning with 31%, though close behind is a call for Alfonso Cuaron to take over. The Children of Men director is a popular suggestion at other polls and blog listings, as well. At the time of this writing, Cuaron is winning Cinema Blend's poll at 26%, with Bryan Singer next in line with 20%. At the fansite My Hunger Games, however, Cuaron is in second place with 16% to Steven Spielberg's 22%. 

Basically, everyone has a favorite, but while I previously joked about Paul Michael Glaser (who does have one vote at My Hunger Games), I really don't have a horse in this race since I haven't read the book.

My only preference is that a woman take the helm. It's a story about a woman and written by a woman, giving us a female perspective on the world of Panem. Why wouldn't a woman filmmaker be the top choice? Some sites have included such options as Twilight's Catherine HardwickeLynne Ramsey (her last film did involve archery), Debra Granik (she direct Jennifer Lawrence to an Oscar with Winter's Bone) and Kathryn Bigelow, who many agree would be most perfect for the finale, Mockingjay, but the major choices seem to be men. Kudos to Scott Mendelson, then, for compiling a list of only women (nine of them!) options. You can see his favorite down below. 

Who are people suggesting should direct Catching Fire? Here's The Conversation heard around the Internet:

Bryan Singer. He has experience with major franchises (X-Men and a Superman film). He has worked with fantasy/sci-fi, and he's also outstanding with ensembles. [...] He was unfairly burned by Superman Returns, and his heart didn't seem into Valkyrie. His passion is bigger-budget fantasy cinema, and this could be an excellent way for him to get back into the fan fold. Also, his strengths as a filmmaker play to what we seem to need in a Hunger Games film. I'd love to see him hit a home run with Catching Fire, because I think he's a great director and he deserves another hit. - Sean O'Connell, Cinema Blend

Alfonso Cuaron. Inspired both by the Harry Potter comparison and the odd stuff that happens later in Catching Fire. [...]  because of a lot of the sci-fi weirdness that hits late in the film, and also a sense that he could nail the intimacy of a lot of scenes between Katniss and Peeta early in the movie. But my gut tells me they'll go for someone cheaper and less famous than either Singer or Cuaron. - Katey Rich, Cinema Blend 

My choice is Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban and Children of Men director Alfonso Cuaron, especially because of his experience with a post-apocalyptic world, and continuing a franchise respectfully while taking it to the next level. - Ethan Anderton, First Showing

Alfonso Cuaron. It’s a brilliant idea. Cuaron is in­cred­ibly skilled at placing his audiences in the center of perilous action sequences (“Children of Men”) and has some experience adapting beloved young adult novels as well (“Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban”). He would be perfect. - Jen Chaney, Celebritology (Washington Post)

I voted for Drew [Goddard] - Gillian Smith, @gillyheartsyou

Who wants to bet me Drew Goddard will NOT be directing CATCHING FIRE? I've got, like, $3 in change I can lay down. - Jeremy Kirk, @JeremyKKirk

Kathryn Bigelow. How cool would this be? Finally, someone would give the movie the dark tones that it deserves (seriously, kids be killing kids). - Emily Cheever, Ology

Kathryn Bigelow. To be fair, Bigelow's work directing the war-torn drama "The Hurt Locker" makes her more qualified for the conflict-heavy "Mockingjay," but why not get an early start setting up the events of the final installment? Plus, the woman's got an Oscar, for Effie's sake! - Amy Wilkinson, MTV News

Kasi Lemmons. Yes, it would be groundbreaking/cool/etc if the reins to today's biggest new franchise were handed off to an African-American woman.  But it would also be just-plain-cool if Chasing Fire were handed to the person who happened to direct Eve's Bayou and Talk To Me.  She directed three features between 1997 and 2007 (the middle one being the not-that great The Caveman's Valentine in 2001, which still featured a fine star turn from Samuel L. Jackson).  But Eve's Bayou is a terrific period drama which features one of Jackson's best performances, period. Talk to Me is a fine and thoughtful biopic about 1960s Washington DC radio DJ Ralph "Petey" Greene (played by Don Cheadle) which features fine supporting work from Chiwetel Ejiofor (his pool-hall conversation with Cheadle is the stuff of acting-class gold), Taraji P. Henson and Martin Sheen (even if Sheen's best scene ended up on the DVD deleted scenes reel).  I don't pretend to know why she has worked so little in the last fifteen years, but her lack of output has always (to me) personified the difficulty that minority and female filmmakers face in terms of having a steady output of films even after they've had one or two successes.  Tokenism and/or Affirmative Action accusations aide, Lemmons has made two awfully good movies and deserves a shot a the big leagues at least as much as the likes of Josh Trank and Marc Webb. - Scott Mendelson, Mendelson's Memos

Terrence Malick. With its lush nature shots and moments of silence, "The Hunger Games" looked like a Terrence Malick movie. Let's get him on board for part two! - Christopher Rosen, Huffington Post

Joe Wright. Since helming the kinetic, kick-ass Hanna last year, Catching Fire could be the ticket for Joe Wright to return to the action arena. We already know he can handle characters thanks to his elegant period pieces such as Pride and Prejudice and Atonement. Returning to that style with the upcoming Anna Karenina, the next in The Hunger Games trilogy is the perfect calling for him to direct another strong heroine. - Jordan Raup, The Film Stage

Joe Cornish. Although a fresh, original voice – this British talent being just that – might be better served telling their own stories, Cornish’s mixture of stylistic flair and formal control would compliment Suzanne Collins‘ specific world-building quite swimmingly. Any and all proof can be found in Attack the Block‘s exciting, tension-filled and kinetic action scenes, all of which make characters the true center and are composed without excessive shaky-cam, too! The characters are already on the page, but he could translate them and their story to the screen like it’s nobody’s business. - Nick Newman, The Film Stage

Not that I'd want him to accept, but if Lionsgate were smart, they'd offer Joe Cornish the 'Catching Fire' gig immediately. - Mike Sampson, @mjsamps

I vote for a Beaufoy/Boyle reunion. Danny Boyle would make a kickass Catching Fire. - Erik Patterson, @erikpatterson

Let's fully turn off the dark and let Julie Taymor direct Catching Fire..who doesn't like lawsuits and creative control issues? - AdamA, @AdamTweetsBest

I think J.J. Abrams should direct Catching Fire and then not tell us about it until it hits DVD - Erik Davis, @ErikDavis

You know who should direct Catching Fire? Harmony Korine. With James Franco in dreads as Katniss. - Josh Brunsting, @joshbrunsting

Looking at some of the names in [Lionsgate's] stable of directors offers some intriguing (and terrifying) options though. Maybe Simon West, Drew Goddard, John Singleton, Marcus Nispel, Neveldine/Taylor or…Tyler Perry? Who are we kidding. It’ll probably be Chris Columbus. - Rob Hunter, Film School Rejects

Maybe Ross’s friend Steven Soderbergh — who, interestingly enough, was a second unit director and filmed the District 11 riot scene in “The Hunger Games” — would be interested in the position. - Terri Schwartz, IFC Fix

What's that guy who made Safe House up to next? My money's on him. Or Paul Greengrass. The shakier the camera, the better. - S.T. VanAirsdale, Movieline


Conversation Twitter Poll: Who should direct Catching Fire?

How about Steven Soderbergh? He did 2nd-unit on the first one, and he can say he's retiring all he likes, but I don't buy it. - Josh Spiegel, @mousterpiece

Cam'Ron. Sam Weisman. Jonathan Liebesman. Sofia Coppola. Nicolas Roeg. Christian E. Christiansen. Whoever's around, really. - Vadim Rizov, @vrizov

Maybe we go silent? Michel Hazanavicius..........................J/K Seriously: Joe Carnahan or Bennet Miller - Film Cahoots, @FilmCahoots

Cuaron would definitely be a good choice! I'd also consider: Danny BoyleDavid O RussellJulian SchnabelMatt Reeves. - Dominic, @Count3D

I would love to see Riddley Scott direct it. - Alex Spivey, @alexspivey

Ridley Scott, circa 1979. - Jasmine Dreame, @jasminedreame 


Follow Christopher Campbell on Twitter (@thefilmcynic) to join The Conversation.

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