Thursday, April 19, 2012

Catching Fire Hunts for New Director

Because there can never be enough Jennifer Lawrence on this site.

Smile. I'm making Millions.
With the astronomical success of The Hunger Games, it looked as if Gary Ross would certainly return to direct the for-sure-hit sequel, Catching Fire. However, this is not the case. Ross turned down the opportunity to direct (and co-write) Catching Fire, much to the dismay of pretty much everyone. The Seabiscuit director did not feel he would have had adequate time to not only direct, but also co-write the adaption of Suzanne Collins's popular young adult novel. I can't say I blame him, as the overwhelming success (critically, but more importantly to the studio, at the box office) has led the film studio helming Catching Fire to rush the production. Obviously, when they look at Jennifer Lawrence or Josh Hutcherson, they see giant dollar signs, so it's no wonder they would want the sequel to be spit out as quickly and painlessly as possible.  Lawrence, already with a packed schedule, has had the filming of the sequel to X-Men: First Class moved to the beginning of 2013, so she could film Catching Fire. Simon Beaufoy (the writer of Slumdog Millionaire and 127 Hours fame) has also been brought on board the project to collaborate with Collins.

This is obviously a huge blow for the fledgeling franchise, which is experiencing critical and commercial bliss. Ross, while criticized for overdoing the dreaded hated despised shaky cam, did a wonderful job at taking difficult source material (the book is told in a first person point of view of a super paranoid, teenage girl...) and weaving it into the film medium. Establishing and fleshing out the numerous characters within the Hunger Games was no small feat, and Ross did an admirable job.

um. what was I talking about?
While switching up directors in a popular movie franchise is nothing new (Harry Potter, Twilight to name a few), the hole that Ross leaves is no easy one to fill. With Catching Fire scheduled to start production within the year, Lionsgate is left scrambling for a replacement director.

A big hurdle that Lionsgate must jump is an obvious one: Suzanne Collins. She wants a director who has the film making know-how and experience more than one who can spin some movie into a cash cow. Well, even though Catching Fire looks like it will be a bit of a rushed production, at least Collins won't allow her beloved book series about murdering children become a pathetic production, a la Twilight or the middle Harry Potter movies (seriously, 4, 5, and 6... so... bad...).

While the studio hasn't officially decided on who they will select, there are some names being thrown around...
See this Emma. This is my impression of us making millions.
If the franchise wants someone familiar with going into an established franchise and shaking things up a bit, Alfonso Cuaron just might be their guy.  Lionsgate would love to pull what Warner Bros. did with Harry Potter when Chris Columbus left after two films. HP brought Cuaron onto the project, and while he radically changed it up, Harry Potter: the Prisoner of Azkaban was well received critically and at the box office. The Children of Men director also showed he was able to balance CGI with reality, something that is imperative to the success of Catching Fire.

Have fun kissing your ONE award.
A choice I am so very much in favor of is Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu. The Babel and Bitiful director beautifully weaves complex characters together in a story that is real and heart-wrenching. While both films he is well known for weren't exactly box office hits, Inarritu has shown over the years that he is an incredible director. While other franchises that have directorial voids to fill filled with trendy box office buffoons, Inarritu would bring something dramatic and  artful to the table. If successful (and I have no doubt it would be), it would set a whole new benchmark in hit blockbuster franchises. And this is a good thing. Because really, if I see another Michael Bay film filled with Bay-splosions rake in gagillions of dollars one more time, I will harm something.

While both Cuaron and Inarritu would have been solid choices (and both would have my endorsement), apparently they didn't make the final cut. Pity.

After sifting through names such as David Cronenberg (maker of everything awesome) Tony Scott (of Unstoppable fame), Swedish director Tomas Alfredson (Let the Right One In and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy), and Stephen Daldry (The Reader, Billy Elliot, and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close) it seems they have narrowed it down to two directors:

If only Aaron Sorkin would write it... thought Miller
Bennett Miller and Francis Lawrence.

While Miller would be my first choice, his involvement with Catching Fire would hinder the schedule of another project he's directing, Foxcatcher starring Steve Carell, Channing Tatum, and Mark Ruffalo. Even though I have no doubt the Capote and Moneyball director would jump at the chance to helm such a project as Catching Fire, I'm not so sure the studios would make him the number one choice.
Stud. ish... or not.

In my opinion, Lawrence (not in any way related to Katniss Jennifer) would be the more likely of the two. For one, the I Am Legend director has the experience with working with over-the-top visual effects, something that Catching Fire will no doubt incorporate. While nothing groundbreaking in the CGI department, his films Constantine and Water for Elephants along with I Am Legend do display Lawrence's adequate ability to balance special effects with reality. He also experienced some critical and box office success with those three films.
Hi........... What was I saying...?
Whoever Lionsgate chooses to direct Catching Fire, said director will no doubt be thrown immediately to work, as shooting will start in August. Well. Good luck with that...

Catching Fire is set to be released to theaters in November 2013.


  1. Great post, I was wondering when I'd start seeing some posts like this. I'd also love to see Bennett Miller take on Catching Fire. Moneyball was really great, and it'd be neat to have someone like him take this on. I'm just glad all the directors names being thrown around are all pretty high (yet unknown) profile, though I'd love to see a woman director. 

  2. Kathryn Bigelow would have been great.  And Heather...we're so happy you commented.


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