With all the conflicting reports over the past few days, you had to have at least suspected this would happen: Gary Ross is stepping down as the director of The Hunger Games franchise.
The news arrived last night via separate statements from both Ross and Lionsgate. The write-up is brief, but touches on how much Ross loved the experience, calling it “the happiest experience of my professional life.” Ross also refutes rumors that the recent negotiations were a tumultuous process and even says that Lionsgate was “very understanding of me through this difficult decision.” He only has the best to say about producer Nina Jacobson, series author Suzanne Collins and star Jennifer Lawrence and then wraps the piece by thanking the faithful fan base.
Overall, incredibly nice and simple words, but one section of Ross’ announcement is rather alarming; his reasoning for not moving on to Catching Fire. “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.” Why is this cause for concern? Because that fixed and tight production schedule isn’t going to change no matter who directs the film. That begin said, feature films are made on tight terms all the time and considering the large majority of the creative team will likely stay intact, my hopes remain high for the quality of Catching Fire.
You can read more on my thoughts on Ross’ exit as well as how it might affect Catching Fire’s timeline in today’s Hunger Games Countdown, but for now I turn the discussion over to some of Ross’ strongest supporters, the Hunger Games fandom.
Sheila of HG Girl on Fire
Over the last couple of days I have been on a roller coaster of emotions, wondering whether Gary Ross would be back or not. When the official statement came out this evening, I felt sad and a bit heart broken that this amazing director would not be back to direct Catching Fire, which happens to be my favorite book in the series. However, I remain optimistic and put my faith in Lionsgate that they will place the same careful consideration while searching for a new director as they did when they hired Gary. I remain hopeful they will find a director that will keep the integrity of the story. Last, I just want to say thank you to Gary Ross for your hard work and vision in bringing The Hunger Games to life. May the odds be always in your favor.
Shylah of Down With The Capitol
The main reason I wanted Gary Ross back is because I felt that he had a really deep connection with the source material - and that's what matters most to me. I'm not big up on directors, but one name came to me once the shock of losing Gary wore off a bit, and that was John Lyde of Mainstay Productions. He's proven that he has a love of the series from his independently produced and funded Hunger Games shorts on the web, and, given a studio-sized budget, I would love to see what he could do.
HG Movie Fan Site
Gary Ross is a genius; there is no doubt about that. However sad we are about Gary Ross, we do believe that this is not the end of the world. Gary brought the world that taught us about hope and perseverance, but we must take those lessons and journey forward. There are other talented directors out there, and we believe that Lionsgate will find the best one for the franchise. We have not lost hope or our belief that Lionsgate, the cast and crew, and even Gary Ross is committed to being true to the books, the fandom, and will give us the best Catching Fire possible. Love for Gary Ross and what he did for all of us will never fade, but we will continue to be optimistic and believe in the future of this franchise.
Tanvi of Hunger Games Network
With all the rumors flying around, I think I can at least say it is a relief to finally have the official statement. Of course I am disappointed. With all the grand ideas Gary Ross had for Catching Fire, I had already started envisioning Catching Fire to be as awesome as The Hunger Games - the extra scenes, the amazing shots. If Ross stayed, we'd have a perfect continuity like Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings. While the past week has been an emotionally wrecking one for any fan, I think it's time to look forward. Ross was brilliant and understood the story, but that definitely doesn't mean no one else will. He is leaving behind a legacy, and it will be great to have a new perspective on the story. I trust Nina Jacobson's instincts; she loves the franchise as much as the fans do. Overall, I am now looking forward to a renewed look into the world of Panem.
I'm very upset as I mentally prepare for Catching Fire, my favorite of the books, to be a lackluster movie. Even if Lionsgate hires a brilliant new director (which I don't think will be the main goal - my guess is they'll go for an inexpensive but "pretty decent" director instead), that director will have even less time in pre-production to set up the story properly. Plots may be altered, corners may be cut, and more than likely, the new director will toss away Gary's beautiful vision of Panem in favor of his own, ruining consistency. Not to mention that Gary Ross handpicked almost every amazing actor in the first film, so who knows if we'll see quality actors picked for roles like Finnick, Johanna, and Beetee? Without a director who is a fan above all else, all bets are off.
Theresa of Down With The Capitol
As a fan of the series, I am saddened to hear that Gary Ross will not be returning to direct Catching Fire. We've come to trust in his vision and we'll always wonder what his version of the film could have been. However, a simple line Gary wrote for President Snow has become my mantra, "Hope is stronger than fear." Nina Jacobson, who went after this project and earned Suzanne's and the fans’ trust is still the producer on the film. She is highly protective of this series and I believe she will find someone the fans will eventually grow to trust as well. I am not sure who I want to step into Gary's shoes. My sentimental favorite is Steven Soderbergh because he has all ready worked on the film and did a fantastic job with the District 11 scenes. But whoever Lionsgate chooses will have a brilliant base set out for them. Gary brought Panem to life for us. He brought us an outstanding cast and has created a wonderful beginning on which to build. We'll miss you Gary, thank you for everything and may the odds be ever in your favor. *Salute*
Crystal of Mockingjay.net/FictionalFood.net
Although I'm sad to hear that things couldn't be worked out with Gary regarding scheduling and what not, I'm still confident enough in Nina Jacobsen and the studio to find a suitable replacement for him and in the actors to put out more great performances. I have no idea how Gary went from enthusiastically talking about Catching Fire to completely bowing out, but I have to accept that The Hunger Games isn't his only interest in life and as a director. He's left behind some big shoes for sure, but with such great books serving as the source material, there's got to be other great directors out there who feel just as moved by the story as he did. And who knows, maybe Gary was like me and his favorite book was The Hunger Games and in the end he decided that was the movie he wanted to make, not necessarily the entire series. In any case, I wish him wonderful success in all his future films!
Lee of The Hob
It was pretty devastating to learn that Gary Ross will not direct Catching Fire. After all the intensive development work, the synergy created with Suzanne Collins, and his love for the material, Gary’s writing and distinctive directorial style will be missed. However, the extraordinary source material from Suzanne still exists. The exceptional producing team headed by Nina Jacobson is still in place. I trust that the choice of director for Catching Fire will have the strength of that experienced team behind her or him and will be positioned to successfully bring the material to life.