Hot off directing The Hunger Games for Lionsgate, the director behind Pleasantville and Seabiscuit has been seen as one of the top talents in town and a whole lot of people are interested to see what he might do next. Alas, the rumors are true in that he will be directing a Peter Pan movie for Disney called Peter and the Starcatchers.
This news may come as sour grapes to Lionsgate/Summit who thought they could hire Ross again after going another way on The Hunger Games sequel, but he apparently was not interested in helming The Secret Life of Houdini. Reports are suggesting that he never even entered into negotiations to direct that effort which is presumably still in development. Continue Reading
One of the hottest directors in Hollywood right now has to be Gary Ross as he is coming off of helming Lionsgate’s crazy successful adaptation of The Hunger Games. The film has already racked up over $600 million at the global box office, yet the Seabiscuit director will not be working on its successor. That job instead is going to I Am Legend director Francis Lawrence who has no concerns about rushing production in order to accommodate Fox’s claim on franchise star Jennifer Lawrence.
With that being said, the director’s proverbial dance card is now free, and Summit reportedly has targeted him to make a film called Houdini. While this has not yet been made official, this would put the director right at the beginning of yet another prospective franchise for essentially the same company.
Make no mistake about it; this feature is not some Harry Houdini, low-budget bio-pic. Sure, it may be based on a biography from William Kalush and Larry Sloman, but Summit apparently has their hearts set on making this into an action-thriller that is best described as a cross between Indiana Jones and Sherlock Holmes.
It is in this lens that we are beginning to see the continued evolution of Lionsgate as a company hell bent on creating blockbuster tentpoles to complement their contingent of horror and Tyler Perry movies. With the imminent finale of The Twilight Saga, the clock may be running out on the studio’s ability to make this happen which is why many should be glad with Summit’s selection of just who is behind the camera for their next attempt at a book-spawned franchise.
There is a lot of ‘imminents’ being thrown about lately across a variety of media blogs, so I thought I would take a moment to mention some of this news that is coming down the pipe in the near future. Continue Reading
There is some major breaking news tonight out of Hollywood. The Hunger Games director Gary Ross has opted not to direct the film’s follow-up Catching Fire. This has been the subject of much speculation of the past few weeks as insiders said early on Ross was not interested enough in the sequel’s material to give it another go. The confirmation comes in the form of a statement from the director himself:
Despite recent speculation in the media, and after difficult but sincere consideration, I have decided not to direct Catching Fire. 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. Lionsgate was supportive of me in a manner that few directors ever experience in a franchise: they empowered me to make the film I wanted to make and backed the movie in a way that requires no explanation beyond the remarkable results. And contrary to what has been reported, negotiations with Lionsgate have not been problematic. They have also been very understanding of me through this difficult decision.
I also cannot say enough about the people I worked with: Producer Nina Jacobson, a great collaborator and a true friend; the brilliant Suzanne Collins, who entrusted us with her most amazing and important story; the gifted and remarkable Jennifer Lawrence whose performance exceeded my wildest expectations, and the rest of the incredible cast, whom I am proud to call my friends.
To the fans I want to say thank you for your support your faith, your enthusiasm and your trust. Hard as this may be to understand I am trying to keep that trust with you. Thank you all. It’s been a wonderful experience.
Lionsgate also issued a statement:
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. This will not be the end of our relationship, as we consider Ross to be part of the Lionsgate family and look forward to working with him in the future.
The Hunger Games’ total box office gross now stands at $464 million worldwide for $307 million of that coming from the domestic level.
Despite the internet hubbub last week about Gary Ross quitting The Hunger Games’ franchise, talks are set to restart later today between the director and studio to try to prevent such an exit from happening. These negotiations are all about money as both sides clearly want Catching Fire to be a Gary Ross-directed feature. The first installment of the series opened to the type of critical and audience acclaim that studios can only dream of while Ross is grabbing 5% of one of the biggest back-ends in Hollywood’s history. It is clearly in their interests to resolve this conflict and the sooner the better.
Why? In order to shoot the sequel to The Hunger Games this year, they need to start shooting in the fall. The series’ star Jennifer Lawrence has an overriding option through Fox to do any X-Men: First Class sequels, and since that studio has recently attached a January shoot date to the movie, it would make Catching Fire very hard to produce in time for its November 2013 release date.
The expectations are that this will indeed be resolved, and that shooting will in fact start in the fall for the sequel. There is just too much money here to let this franchise fall apart at the seams. With it looking as if Lionsgate has the most to lose from a falling out, expect a big pay increase headed Gary Ross’ way.
The Hunger Games cast sat down with Yahoo! Movies recently where they discussed how they originally got cast in the blockbuster film. It turns out that Jennifer Lawrence was Gary Ross’ first choice by a mile to play Katniss Everdeen, but her male co-stars had to work for it with chemistry tests. Go figure. The movie hits theaters Friday.
Hollywood has a hit franchise set to launch this Friday, and what’s more is they know it. The film saga is called The Hunger Games–based on a series of Suzanne Collins’ novels that is set in a post-apocalyptic world where an annual fight-to-the-death battle is held for the amusement of a television audience. It comes a tad ironic that this movie is the juggernaut that it is as one of the story’s central themes is the media’s tendency to over sensationalize tragic circumstances in our modern society, but nonetheless big things are expected from the Gary Ross-directed feature.
Analysts are ready to cement The Hunger Games as the 12th billion-dollar film ever made. The data is showing that the movie has more early interest from a more diverse audience than any of the Twilight films. Not only are females more interested, but the male demographic interest as a whole greatly transcends that particular franchise. The split is coming in at about 60-40 which is actually closing in on what we are seeing nowadays for films without gender specific targets, and that is what is driving these stellar, 9-figure initial estimates for an opening weekend.
While the book’s popularity is helping to drive this movie’s hot tracking, it is also the prospect of a Twilight -like explosion in notoriety for the series’ stars: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, and Liam Hemsworth (the brother of Thor actor Chris Hemsworth). While Lawrence has been known for her roles in X-Men: First Class and Winter’s Bone, the other two actors remain relative unknowns at this time among the mainstream public. Hemsworth is the more likely of the two to see an imminent surge to superstar status as he is set to star in another blockbuster effort later this year, The Expendables 2.
Be sure to check out the weekend numbers as it will definitely be entertaining to see how high The Hunger Games will go based on its installed fan base, general hype, and solid reviews. There could be some records falling through the three-day period beginning Friday, so stay tuned for coverage of that as well.