"Despite recent speculation in the media, and after difficult but sincere consideration, I have decided not to direct 'Catching Fire,' " Ross said. "As a writer and a director, I simply don't have the time I need to write and prep the movie I would have wanted to make because of the fixed and tight production schedule. I loved making 'The Hunger Games' — it was the happiest experience of my professional life."
"Hunger Games" studio Lionsgate expressed remorse at Ross' departure. "We're very sorry that Gary Ross has chosen not to direct 'Catching Fire.' We were really looking forward to making the movie with him. He did an incredible job on the first film and we are grateful for his work."
MTV Movies Managing Editor Eric Ditzian thought something was up. "I am frankly surprised he's not coming back, but in retrospect, I could see the implication when he was speaking to us, he was very reluctant to talk about 'Catching Fire,' " Ditzian told the panel on the latest edition of MTV News' "Talk Nerdy."
"Nerdy" host Josh Wigler expressed the need for urgency on the part of Lionsgate to make their hire soon. "Whoever they get to direct 'Fire' needs to have started yesterday. They really need to make this hire pretty fast; production is moving in August."
Who will step in for Ross? On Ditzian's wish list: Darren Aronofsky. "Great with the hand-held camera, great with these intimate first-person narratives. But it's not going to happen. He's busy."
Ditzian's pick for the auteur to drive Katniss' next chapter is Oscar-winning Danny Boyle, who's no stranger to hand-held cameras himself and has proved time and time again, from "Trainspotting" to "127 Hours," that he's a master of first-person tales as well.
The MTV Movies staff also predicts the short list of directors will include Steven Soderbergh, John Hillcoat and J.J. Abrams.
"The movie can survive," Ditzian said.
Jennifer Lawrence Tells MTV News About Planning Ahead for "Catching Fire."
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