As evidenced everywhere from The Treasure of the Sierra Madre to the work of Notorious B.I.G., there’s nothing like a little success to complicate matters. Following a massive, record-breaking opening for The Hunger Games, Lionsgate’s powerful new franchise has run into a wall. Director Gary Ross, who many assumed would be staying on to helm the sequel, Catching Fire, has yet to sign on for another film, and according to a recent report, contract negotiations are not going smoothly.
In its less than two weeks in theaters, The Hunger Games has already amassed $373.3 million worldwide, as well as fairly positive reviews, a phenomenal springboard for future sequels. This puts Ross, who was paid $3 million to direct and co-write the first film, in a prime position to ask for a better contract for the follow-up.
History may not be on his side: Previous franchises have had no trouble with a directorial revolving door policy. Summit in particular has had continued success with its Twilight series despite changing directors more often than their underwear, and now that the studio has merged with Lionsgate, that earned knowledge may factor into their decisions regarding whether it’s worth it to keep Ross.
By many accounts, Ross has been integral to the production. “This movie is all him,” star Jennifer Lawrence, assuming that Ross would return, told EW shortly before the movie premiered. “Everything that I love about this movie, and everything that got me to say yes to this movie, was him.” Woody Harrelson went so far as to say that he based his decision to sign on to the series on the idea that Ross would be coming back. “I talked to him about that before even agreeing to do the movie,” he said. “So him saying yes to that was pretty imperative.”
The fact that much of the cast, not to mention Ross himself, had believed he’d be staying on for a second go-round seems to indicate that there’s a decent chance we won’t be seeing someone else in his director’s chair when they start shooting later this year. There’s still some time left for maneuvering—Catching Fire isn’t scheduled to hit theaters until November, 2013—but Lionsgate and Ross will need to resolve their dispute relatively quickly if they want to stay on schedule.