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The future of 2012’s biggest movie (so far) could see a change in direction, as The Hunger Games helmer Gary Ross remains unsigned for the sequel, Catching Fire. The 55-year-old director of Seabiscuit and Pleasantville began negotiations with Lionsgate back in early March, but no deal has been reached. He earned $3 million co-writing and directing the first of Suzanne Collins’ series of popular young-adult novels, along with 5 percent on the back end.
Considering that back end is on a movie that’s earned a million dollars for every day of the year (current tallies have it at just shy of $375 million), one might think Ross would stop caring about finances entirely, but seeing as Lionsgate is still pretty new to the blockbuster business (The Hunger Games is their biggest hit since Fahrenheit 9/11), they’re not used to paying top dollar for an in-demand director. They’ll have to weigh meeting Ross’ request against the possible risk of spoiling the extremely profitable well by bringing in another director.
A bigger concern for Lionsgate could be the availability of star Jennifer Lawrence, who’s still on contract with Fox for a sequel to X-Men: First Class. Sources claim that Fox’s contract supersedes the one Lawrence has at Lionsgate, which covers the whole “Games” franchise. This would likely upset the planned November 2013 release date for Catching Fire, which already has a script from Slumdog Millionaire writer Simon Beaufoy.
Despite the rapidity with which films enter into the franchise mindset these days, finding anyone to oversee things for the long haul can be difficult, regardless of how much money is on the table. The “Harry Potter” series ran through four directors in eight films, while the staggering sales figures for Twilight weren’t enough to secure director Catherine Hardwicke’s place for round two. Still, The Hollywood Reporter says sources close to Ross are optimistic that “everybody will do the sane thing, which is to work it out.”