Francis Lawrence To Direct Both ‘Mockingjay’ Films

Lionsgate confirms the 'Catching Fire' helmer will return for final 'Hunger Games' installments.

“Catching Fire” helmer Francis Lawrence has been reaped to direct the final two installment of “The Hunger Games” franchise, “Mockingjay – Part 1″ and “Mockingjay – Part 2,” Lionsgate has confirmed.

Lawrence is currently at work on the series’ second installment, having been tapped to fill the vacant director’s chair left after Gary Ross opted out of the sequel. Principle photography on “Catching Fire” began in September in Atlanta, Georgia, with production shifting to Hawaii in order to evoke the tropical setting of the 75th annual Hunger Games (otherwise known as the Quarter Quell).

Rumors had swirled that Lionsgate was eyeing a new auteur to direct the franchise’s two-part finale (due largely to the series’ aggressive production schedule), but the studio must have decided that the odds were ever in Lawrence’s favor.

When MTV News caught up with Woody Harrelson (otherwise known as oft-drunk District 12 mentor Haymitch Abernathy) prior to “Catching Fire” filming, he was excited about the prospect of Lawrence behind the camera. “You know, I like the way Francis is very thorough, very on top of everything. I really feel great,” he said. “I loved Gary. I thought Gary did an incredible job with the first one, but I do think Francis is going to do great with this.”

“Mockingjay” — written as a single book by Suzanne Collins — will be split into two films much the same way “Breaking Dawn” and “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” were. The films will follow bow-and-arrow-wielding heroine Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) as she leads a rebellion against the Capitol and its tyrannical leader President Snow (Donald Sutherland). Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth will also star.

“Catching Fire” is slated for a November 22, 2013, release, with “Mockingjay – Part 1″ out November 21, 2014, followed by “Mockingjay – Part 2″ debuting November 20, 2015.

What do you think about Francis Lawrence directing the remainder of “The Hunger Games” franchise?