'Hunger Games' sequel 'Catching Fire' gets its director

There is no denying that the first movie in The Hunger Games trilogy is a certified mega-hit, but the director, Gary Ross, said he could not do the sequel, well, now the new director has been named.

It has been the source of much speculation and angst over who would direct the sure-fire hit sequel to the monstrously successful The Hunger Games. The movies are based on the trilogy of novels written by Suzanne Collins and have become a phenomenon in the literary, as well as film, world. The first movie came out earlier in 2012 and was a certified monster hit, breaking records around the world wherever it was shown. However, the director of the first film, Gary Ross, bowed out of making the sequel, setting of a debate and much worry among fans.

According to Hollywood news reports, the new director has been named and it is Francis Lawrence. Lawrence is the director of such hit movies as the Will Smith vehicle I Am Legend and the Reese Witherspoon/Robert Pattinson movie Water for Elephants. The announcement came from the movie studio that owns the rights to the Hunger Games movies, Lionsgate, late Thursday evening.

For some, this is not really good news. When the debates began as to whether or not Ross would return, even some of the actors from the film said that they hoped he would. Actor Josh Hutcherson, who plays Peeta, said that he could not imagine anyone else directing the sequel except for Ross.

When Ross decided that he could not complete the sequel in the tight schedule ordered by the film company, he bowed out. Many thought that this would be a problem for the film. Although the film, given the success of the first movie and the huge popularity of the novels, is certain to be a hit, many worried that new director would disrupt the feel and rhythm of the film

The movie studio’s representative, Nina Jacobson, released a statement to the media saying, "From my first conversation with Francis, I knew he would make a great partner for both me and Suzanne. His passion for 'Catching Fire' and inspired ideas for a faithful adaptation make him the perfect director for this movie. I know this will be a wonderful collaboration and I cannot wait to get started."

As for Lawrence, he has also stated to the media that he is happy to be on board. The director stated, "It is truly an honor and a privilege to bring 'Catching Fire,' the second chapter of Suzanne’s beloved trilogy, to the big screen. I fell in love with the characters, the themes and the world she created and this chapter opens all of these elements up in such a thrilling, emotional and surprising way. I can’t wait to dive right into it and bring this chapter to life along with the truly superb cast and filmmakers involved."

The movies and the novels picture a dystopian future where the United States no longer exists, replaced with a country called Panem. After an uprising by the various districts against Panem’s Capital, the Capital institutes a yearly game where a boy and girl between the ages of 12 - 18 are picked to fight to the death in an arena. The films and book’s central character is a quick-witted and determined young heroine who is a marksman with the bow named Katniss Everdeen.

There are three books in the trilogy. Many consider the second novel to be the best of the series. It has been reported that the third novel will actually be divided into two movies.

Photo of book cover courtesy of Wikipedia archives.

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