According to a recent report on the website IndieWire, The Hunger Games director Gary Ross has officially decided that he will not be returning to helm the sequel, Catching Fire.
Ross, who earned a $3 million salary and 5-percent of the box office gross to co-write and direct The Hunger Games, was initially said to be holding out for a better payday. The new reports, however, suggest that money was never really an issue for the in-demand director/writer, and he simply wanted to move on to other projects. The time required to conclude the series was also a possible issue: if Ross had agreed to direct both Catching Fire and the finale Mockingjay (which may be split into two movies), he would be looking at a commitment of several years.
The news comes even as a particularly tense situation regarding the availability of Hunger Games star Jennifer Lawrence has been resolved. Both Lionsgate, makers of The Hunger Games, and Fox, the studio behind X-Men: First Class (in which Lawrence plays a smaller–but integral–role of Raven Darkholme/Mystique) had hoped to begin filming their sequels this Fall.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Fox is delaying production on the next X-Men until January 2013 so that Lawrence will have time to work on Catching Fire, which is expected to start filming sometime in August or September.
Catching Fire is scheduled to hit theaters on November 22, 2013.