Francis Lawrence is officially on board to direct the second film in the "Hunger Games" franchise, "Catching Fire." After Gary Ross parted with the box-office blockbuster last month, one of the film's stars, Liam Hemsworth, is opening up about the new director, sharing that he finds the prospect of a new set of eyes on the story an exciting prospect.
"The last I heard, the new director [Lawrence] had just come on, so that's really cool," he told E! News over the weekend. "I'm excited about that. I think we shoot the last few months of this year. I'm really sad to see that Gary's not going to be part of the second one. He did such an amazing job on the first."
Hemsworth's sentiments mirror those that co-star Josh Hutcherson shared with MTV News in late April about Lawrence joining the world of the "Hunger Games." "Gary, I think, brought so much to the movie, and he created that whole world that was so close to the book and so perfect in so many ways that it's going to be hard for Francis to come in, for sure," he said. "But Francis is extremely talented, and everyone I've talked to says he's the best guy in the world, so I think he's going to bring a lot."
Hemsworth notes that while Lawrence will be new to the team, there will be plenty of people who helped shape the first film back for round two. "I think that there's still so many people a part of it that want the film to be great and care about it so much that they're not going to bring the wrong person on," he said.
Hot on the heels of those comments, screenwriter Michael Arndt is rumored to be coming on board to write the "Catching Fire" script.
The Oscar-winning writer wrote "Little Miss Sunshine" and "Toy Story 3." The Hollywood Reporter notes that while no deal has been met yet, he would have to work to get the script done for late-summer production. Previously, Ross co-wrote the script for "Hunger Games," and "Catching Fire" has already been drafted by "Slumdog Millionaire" writer Simon Beaufoy. Both worked with novelist Suzanne Collins.
Before the sequel goes into production, the original "Hunger Games" flick will be thrown into its first MTV Movie Awards gauntlet in June. The movie is up for eight popcorn statues including Movie of the Year, Best Cast and Best Kiss.
Check out everything we've got on "Hunger Games: Catching Fire."
For young Hollywood news, fashion and "Twilight" updates around the clock, visit HollywoodCrush.MTV.com.