The Pros and Cons of Francis Lawrence Directing Three 'The Hunger Games' Films

The Pros and Cons of Francis Lawrence Directing Three 'The Hunger Games' Films

Nov 14, 2012

Welcome to The Hunger Games Countdown, our resident expert's continued guide to all things Hunger Games on the way to the film's sequel, Catching Fire.


Need to Know Hunger Games News

Hutcherson and Lawrence Silver Lining Red Dawn

 

Planning to check out The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2 this weekend? There’s a little rumor floating around that the Hunger Games: Catching Fire logo will be unveiled at the screenings. Never a Dull Moment posted a screenshot of a movie theater document detailing the Breaking Dawn digital file information as well as the trailers that are supposed to be programmed with it and, as expected, that includes the new Warm Bodies trailer, but then it also says “Now You See Me/ Hunger Games: Catching Fire Logo Reveal.” While nothing has been confirmed by Lionsgate, it seems to be right there in black and white so I’m thinking it’s a safe bet we’ll get a little Catching Fire before Breaking Dawn.

Speaking of highly anticipated releases, both Josh Hutcherson and Jennifer Lawrence have highly anticipated films coming out and I’ve had the chance to catch them both. How do they stack up? As far as their performances go, both Hutcherson and Lawrence impress, but Lawrence’s work in Silver Linings Playbook is just above and beyond – as is the film as a whole. The story is simple and sweet yet profound, and Lawrence turns Tiffany into an enigmatic character you’re desperate to know more about. Check out this clip from Yahoo! for a taste of what she’s got to offer. Red Dawn, on the other hand, is rather one-note. What you see in that EW clip is what you get -- hot young actors running around with guns, blowing away the enemy. If that’s your thing, it offers a fair amount of entertainment, but Hutcherson will undoubtedly still be waiting for his first Oscar-worthy role while Lawrence might be snagging another nomination.

While they’re waiting for their new movies to hit theaters, Lawrence and Hutcherson are likely spending time in Hawaii because Pacific Business News confirmed that The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is in Oahu for a new filming location, but, as stated by Hawaii Film Commissioner Donne Dawson, “For security reasons, logistics reasons, we don’t confirm specific locations.”

Hunger Games director Gary Ross recently got chatty with EW, explaining that he opted out of the franchise because he would have needed more time to do Catching Fire his way. “When you write and you direct that’s a linear process, it’s not a simultaneous process. I would’ve had to have written a script and prepped the whole movie in four months and on the first movie that’s a process that took me eight months. And I thought [Catching Fire] was a more difficult adaptation, not an easier one. I didn’t really feel I had the time I needed to live up to my own standards. And I haven’t had a moment’s regret. It was absolutely the right decision and I’m thrilled about new challenges.”

Francis Lawrence

Clearly Francis Lawrence doesn’t share that same sentiment and/or process because Lionsgate recently announced that Lawrence is locked to direct Mockingjay – Part 1 and Mockingjay - Part 2. Sure it’s exciting to know that Lawrence will be our main man until the franchise’s end, but you’ve still got to wonder, are we better off having the same guy direct the three remaining films? The arrangement has a number of potential pros and cons…

 

Pro: Continuity

Continuity is key to any franchise in every respect – costume design, set design, tone, etc. Yes, Hunger Games has some solid source material at the core for guidance, but individual imagination and vision can still differ vastly from person to person. By keeping Lawrence on board for films two, three and four, we’re almost guaranteeing that every iteration of the franchise will maintain consistency.

Con: Continuity

Yes, continuity is key to keeping moviegoers immersed in a world throughout the length of a franchise, but hey, mistakes are made and sometimes things have to change. When you’ve got the same director neck deep in the same material for three films in a row, it can be tough to trade the old for something new, even if the old didn’t end up working all that well. And, should that happen, it wouldn’t even be Lawrence’s fault. Filmmaking is a lengthy and intense process and sometimes the key to making a movie work is stepping away for a bit. However, for Lawrence, with three films coming out and each only a year apart, he’ll likely be living, breathing and eating Hunger Games for the next three years straight.

Hunger Games Peacekeepers

Pro: Long-standing Working Relationships

Filmmaking can be a very intimate process, especially when you’re on location. You really only need one movie to make a good friend, but by sticking with the franchise through Mockingjay – Part 2, Lawrence can truly form a Hunger Games family with his cast and crew, establishing a fruitful filming rhythm. By figuring out how his actors prefer to work, understanding how the cinematographer and his camera crew operates, getting a to-the-second sense of how long hair and makeup needs to prepare and beyond, the Hunger Games team could and should develop a seamless process for optimal production value.

Con: Long-standing Working Relationships

Filmmakers are people too, and sometimes people butt heads. Think about it: Who do you argue with most? Probably the people you’re closest with. The more time you spend with someone, the more likely disagreements will crop up, whether it’s simply a result of spending so much time together or growing so comfortable with one another that you’re more willing to speak your mind. The process needs to be fluid. Excellent material often comes from tossing around conflicting ideas, but you really never know what goes on behind close doors. Should Lawrence rub someone who’ll be with the franchise to the end the wrong way now, it could be a bumpy road to the finish line.

Pro: Perseverance

Imagine you’re well into an assignment at work and halfway through your boss tells you he wants to book you for two more high-profile assignments. That’s got to make you feel pretty good, right? There’s no way Lionsgate would commit to working with Lawrence for two more films if he wasn’t doing a good job on Catching Fire. And, even if he is having a good experience on Catching Fire, there’s always room for more assurance and fortitude, and I’d like to bet getting this vote of confidence from the studio lit, well, a fire under Lawrence’s you know what.

Con: Exhaustion

Whether Lawrence is determined at this very moment or not, a year, let alone three, is a long time. Just recently I attended a press conference for Skyfall and Sam Mendes had only the best to say about the whole process, but when asked if he’d like to continue on with the franchise he admitted that the experience was exhausting, and who would blame Lawrence if he felt the same way after so much work?

Francis Lawrence

Pro: Understanding the Material

Who’s willing to bet that Peter Jackson is a J.R.R. Tolkien expert? It’s one thing to give The Hunger Games trilogy a read or even multiple reads, but it’s another to actually live with the material. Hunger Games will be Lawrence’s life for quite a while, giving him the time to dig deeper and put what should be a particularly thoughtful understanding of Collins’ work on the screen. Had Lionsgate opted to swap directors for each iteration, whether those newcomers had read the books and saw the films or not, they’d still need some time to get their feet wet.

Con: Catching Fire Doesn’t Live Up to Expectations

Gasp! I said it! I really do have faith in Lawrence and have very high hopes he’ll keep the bar high with Catching Fire, but it’s just impossible to guarantee the quality of the film at this point in the game – whether you’re a fan or you’re actually on set working on it. Perhaps they’re shooting some incredible material, but when Lawrence sits down to edit, it just doesn’t cut together well. Yes, the opposite could be the case, too, but, the point is, it can still go either way and should Catching Fire disappoint, it could be detrimental to the morale of the steadfast fan base.

Pro: Catching Fire Lives Up to Expectations

Yes, I just had to end on a positive note. Should Catching Fire blow us all away – and I truly believe it will – it’ll be smooth sailing through Mockingjay –Part 2!

There are 373 days until the release of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.

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