Lionsgate has wasted no time in lining up a replacement director for their Hunger Games sequel Catching Fire following the resignation of franchise-launcher Gary Ross last week. The studio has chosen Water For Elephants helmer Francis Lawrence to take the reins of their hit series of teen-lit adaptions.
Reportedly Lawrence beat out Moneyball director Bennett Miller who wanted to push back the studio’s desired production start date in August in order to have more prep time. The studio is loathed to do that as Hunger Games star Jennifer Lawrence is committed to Twentieth Century Fox’s X-Men: First Class sequel that is scheduled to begin production in January. The studio is anxious to capitalize on the box office success of Hunger Games by getting the sequel into theaters as quickly as possible and have already announced a November 22, 2013 release date.
In addition to Water For Elephants, Lawrence has experience with genre films having helmed the Will Smith action-flick I Am Legend and the comic book adaption Constantine. I don’t think there is anything particularly special about any of those films that I could attribute to Lawrence’s direction, but he seems like a safe, journeyman choice for a studio looking to crank out product.
Although no deal has been finalized I would expect it to come together fairly quickly.