We have a director! (Well, unless he turns down the offer, which is highly unlikely.) After all the talk of Alejandro Gonzalez Innaritu, Joe Cornish, David Cronenberg and more, Lionsgate has landed on Francis Lawrence to helm the Hunger Games sequel, Catching Fire. According to THR, it came down to Lawrence and Moneyball’s Bennett Miller, but ultimately the offer was sent to the I Am Legend and Water for Elephants director.
The article notes that many suspected Lawrence to be the top choice simply because he was the one with the open schedule. Hopefully that wasn’t the only reason he beat out the competition, which apparently also included Tomas Alfredson, Cary Fukunaga and Duncan Jones as well.
It’s tough to judge Lawrence’s ability without looking back at his repertoire and directorial decisions, but based on my fondness for I Am Legend, it seems like a fine choice. Then again, I can’t help but think I would have been more enthusiastic had Cornish, Miller, Alfredson or Jones gotten the gig, though there’s really no point in looking back now.
Lawrence is our man and he’s got some great potential having adapted two novels and a comic book, working with dramatic, romantic and action-packed material. Really, the only pivotal element missing from his resume is a writing credit. What made Ross particularly integrated in the development of The Hunger Games was his involvement as a writer, and that likely had a lot to do with the film’s success. Then again, we could look at it from the opposite standpoint and consider that a detachment from the script, to a point, would leave Lawrence hyper-focused on his directing duties.
Regardless, two Lawrences should be better than one, right? Let’s see what the Hunger Games fandom has to say.
Sara of The Hunger Games Examiner
I was really pleased with Gary Ross's work on The Hunger Games and I was sad to see him go, but I am thrilled with the choice of Francis Lawrence. Here's a director who understands all of the elements needed to make Catching Fire work, action, special effects, romance, and working with a novel as your source material. Both I Am Legend and Water for Elephants were book adaptations, and in both cases, Lawrence did a great job bringing them to life on the big screen. I'm excited to see what he can do with Catching Fire.
Lindsay of HG Girl on Fire
The first few directors that were thrown into the ring, while high profile, seemed just a bit off for me. Plus, I just couldn't see some of them accepting the job, like Cronenberg. When Bennett Miller and Francis Lawrence were mentioned, Lawrence jumped out at me. For one, I'm familiar with some of his work. I personally really enjoyed Water for Elephants and thought it was beautifully done. The way it looked was attractive. He did a great job with casting, making some daring choices, and the film dealt with action as well as drama and interpersonal relationships. On top of that, I Am Legend is up the same alley as Hunger Games with its post-apocalyptic-type story. I have no idea how Lawrence will handle the script written by Simon Beaufoy. I'd say that's the iffy part for me, but I have plenty of confidence in his casting and filming abilities.
Savanna of The Hunger Games Fireside Chat
I'm okay with this choice. I like the fact that Lawrence isn't a super famous director who feels the need to put his "signature stamp" on everything and make his movies all about him. He seems like someone who will respect the source material and be willing to build upon the framework that Ross laid in The Hunger Games while incorporating his own creative vision. As far as his previous work goes, I wasn't a fan of Water for Elephants, simply because I thought it was a terrible adaptation of the book (script-wise), but Lawrence's directing was fantastic. I haven't seen I Am Legend in a while, so I don't feel qualified to comment on it, but I think it's good that Lawrence has experience working within a post-apocalyptic setting and dealing with a lot of special effects. And as a seasoned music video director, we know that Lawrence is used to working within short time frames and making quick decisions, which should [hopefully] be an advantage as he dives into Catching Fire.
Crystal of Mockingjay.net/FictionalFood.net
Yesterday when word was that it was down to Miller and Lawrence, I had picked Miller as the one I wanted because I didn't really care for Constantine or I Am Legend, or even Water for Elephants. That being said, I am willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. So while I had my reservations yesterday, I'll wait to judge after I've seen or read interviews with him. First and foremost, he has to have read the books or be reading them right now. If he hops into the script rewrite without having done that, my head might explode. The funniest thing about him being the one is that I'm of the opinion that he looks like the spitting image of Bradley Cooper like 20 years from now, whom Jennifer has just done two consecutive movies with.
Adam of The Hunger Games Fireside Chat
Francis Lawrence is a bit of a question mark, and that's probably a good thing. Keep in mind, Gary Ross didn't fit everyone's ideal image right away, and he proved to be exceptionally equipped for the task. What you didn't want was someone like Alfonso Cuaron, who would spin this into a critically acclaimed picture that spits on Suzanne Collins' words. As long as this Lawrence makes use of the other Lawrence the way Ross did, this could work out. I do have some concerns about Lawrence's track record with book adaptations, but I'm going to see dandelions here; this could turn out extremely well, and we've still got Suzanne and Nina to steer the ship from here to kingdom come.
Theresa of Down With The Capitol
I fully admit to being a newbie in the Francis Lawrence camp. I have yet to see a film he has worked on (though I'm planning to change that soon), so I really can't make a judgment on this decision. I can say that I trust those involved in the project, including Nina Jacobson and Suzanne Collins, to protect the film, and I will do my best to learn to trust Lawrence as well. Hopefully we'll be hearing from him soon on his thoughts for the adaptation. We lost a fan boy in Gary Ross, and to hear Lawrence's thoughts on the book/film would be a helpful beginning as he enters the franchise. May the odds be ever in Lawrence's favor.
Tanvi of The Hunger Games Network
As the reports have said, Francis Lawrence has been chosen mostly because of his open schedule rather than any spectacular work. They've chosen Lawrence under a time crunch, and I am not sure how I feel about the snap decision. When I think of Francis Lawrence, Britney Spears's music videos are what come to mind - which isn't exactly comforting. Of course, Lawrence has directed I Am Legend, Constantine, and Water For Elephants. With that, he has worked with versatile actors like Tilda Swinton, Reese Witherspoon, Rachel Weisz, Keanu Reeves, Robert Pattinson (let's throw his name in because, well, you can't ignore anything with Pattinson these days) and more. Two of those movies are adaptations, and not that great from this point of view. To his credit, I will say that I Am Legend's Manhattan was pretty good, and if he can stick to the script prepared by Simon Beaufoy (and hopefully, Suzanne Collins will give her once-over on it), I'm prepared to say I'm cautiously optimistic. I'll trust Nina Jacobson on this for the time being.
Amanda of The Hob
I can honestly say Francis Lawrence wouldn't be my first choice. I never saw I Am Legend, and I wasn't that impressed with Water for Elephants - everything looked great, but the casting was a bit off and the adaptation of the book wasn't always ideal. However, I recently learned that he served as director and executive producer on Kings, one of my favorite TV shows that was cancelled way too soon, which gives me a bit more confidence and excitement about his selection. Catching Fire is going to be a demanding movie, and I hope that Lionsgate chose him because he's up for the challenge and not just because he was available on short notice. So until we see the first interviews and clips from the movie, I'm going to remain optimistic that he can deliver the movie fans deserve. And maybe (hopefully) we'll find out he's a fan himself!
Lee of The Hob
Francis Lawrence is an interesting choice. He has tremendous range as a director, having worked on films of an epic scale (I Am Legend) and intimate drama (Water for Elephants), as well as having done prior adapted screenplays. Certainly no stranger to a film that has special effects, his strongest voice as a director is the focus of the protagonist having to surmount incredible odds to succeed. The only drawback I see from his resume is the performance of female protagonist, Marlena from Water for Elephants. The issue in that instance could have been due to the screenplay and nothing to do with the director in charge, but it does weigh on my enthusiasm for Lawrence and his choice as director for Catching Fire.