It's been a fraught few weeks following director Gary Ross' announcement that he wouldn't helm "The Hunger Games" follow-up "Catching Fire." Panem watchers are rightfully peeved: In Ross, fans found a kindred spirit, one who always seemed a devotee first and a director second.

As the rumor mill continues to rage regarding who will fill his sizable shoes (reports indicate Francis Lawrence and Bennett Miller are the top two candidates), now seemed as good a time as any to remind ourselves that despite the director drama, there's plenty to look forward to in "Catching Fire."

Here are five reasons we should all be celebrating.

It's Actually Being Made
Obvious, sure, but remember when a sequel wasn't a foregone conclusion? When Lionsgate CEO Jon Feltheimer said the first installment had to hit $100 million domestically in order to justify sequels (which it did handily)? We're lucky to have at least two — if not three — more films on the horizon. Just think how "John Carter" fans feel right now ...

Gary Ross Set Up the Series Well
No sloppy seconds here. Ross' successor will have to bring his A-game to "Catching Fire," considering the bar Ross set. Here's hoping he is up for the challenge.

Either Director Will Excel
Speaking of a challenge, if the rumored director shortlist of Lawrence ("Water for Elephants") and Miller ("Moneyball") is accurate, the series will be in safe and sound hands. My colleague, Kevin P. Sullivan, already examined the candidates' respective CVs in length, but suffice it to say, both directors will bring their respective strengths to the Games.

Fresh Faces Will Abound
Once a director is in place, casting can begin in earnest for the bevy of new characters in "Catching Fire." Whether you're dying to drool over dreamy District 4 tribute Finnick Odair or can't wait to see who struts as Johanna Mason, there will be a whole new slew of casting announcements to await. And, of course, we'll be speculating endlessly until the reaping is complete.

We'll Enter a Whole New Arena
In addition to the tribute parade, fans will devour an entirely new Games thanks to the jungle-like setting of the Quarter Quell. Remember how cool it was to see the arena for the first time in "The Hunger Games"? Well, prepare for that feeling again! Beyond that, it will be intriguing to see how a new director handles the aesthetics of Katniss' dystopian world. Let "Catching Fire" blaze!

What about "Catching Fire" has you stoked? Sound off in the comments below and tweet me @amymwilk with your thoughts and suggestions for future columns!

Check out everything we've got on "Hunger Games: Catching Fire."

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