The Hunger Games was, to put it mildly, an enormous hit for Lionsgate, and promises to be another powerhouse franchise along the lines of Harry Potter and Twilight. And like Harry Potter and Twilight, the director apparently isn't the most important person involved. There's a good chance that Lionsgate won't renew Seabiscuit director Gary Ross's contract to direct the upcoming sequel, Catching Fire. The issue? Money, of course.
Gary Ross was always an unexpected choice to adapt The Hunger Games, since his previous features – Pleasantville and Seabiscuit – were both nostalgic, critically-acclaimed melodramas as opposed to sci-fi action movies. That sensibility served him well for The Hunger Games, which has already grossed $373 million worldwide (and counting), but he's an A-lister who demands an A-list salary. His $3 million fee (plus 5% of the backend) for The Hunger Games was considered rather modest, for Ross at any rate, and now that the film is a bona fide blockbuster he's negotiating for an increased payday. Hollywood Reporter reports that Lionsgate is playing hardball, since the cycled directors on other popular franchises – again, like Harry Potter and Twilight – has lessened the value the industry places on a single creative vision in a franchise whose direction has been predetermined by already-popular source material.
Lionsgate is expected to either pony up or fire Ross outright since they've already staked out a November 2013 release date for Catching Fire. Further complicating matters, Jennifer Lawrence is also contracted to appear in X-Men: First Class 2, which is also gearing up production, and her contract with Fox would supercede her contract with Lionsgate, potentially delaying Catching Fire. The Hollywood Reporters insiders seem to believe that Lionsgate will eventually acquiesce to Ross's demands, but technically speaking, there's nothing stopping them from mixing it up a bit next time. The fact that Ross was only contracted for one film seems to imply that Lionsgate was considering that course of action all along.
CraveOnline will be back with more Hunger Games news after we order our own powdered wigs.
Photo Credit: Murray Close