It should come as no surprise that — like Harry Potter and Twilight before it — The Hunger Games will be a film franchise carried out by several directors. Today brings the news that with the second film, Catching Fire, Lionsgate will already have to search for a new helmer as Gary Ross has opted out of the director’s chair.

While this comes from a respectable source, do note that Lionsgate has not yet confirmed or denied the story, according to /Film’s Germain Lussier.

The news comes from The Playlist, which details a decision made based on a variety of factors, with money only being a small consideration. There’s been some rumor-mongering this week of Lionsgate low-balling Ross despite his hand in creating the third most successfully opening film of all time, but apparently Ross’ departure has more to do with his unwillingness to settle into this universe for several more years. Instead, he’s apparently decided to take this opportunity to cash in his chips and have a screenplay of his own put into production- likely a wise choice.

From their news break:

While the details on what that project will be are still coming together, we’re told it will be something he has written that (ironically) will earn him a better payday that he would’ve received on “Catching Fire.” Essentially, it’s a win-win for Ross, who gets to move on to a project he developed for his fourth feature, and will allow him to do something different.

I frequently see comments that the first book from Clarissa Explains It All writer Suzanne Collins is better than the rest, so it’s no surprise that Ross would rather quit while he’s ahead.

I’ve spent few more frustrating hours in a movie theater this year than I did watching Hunger Games, which I found to be an ugly, clumsy movie at virtually every turn. Some of my issues I believe fall on the root source material, but Ross too made some baffling choices, so his departure will draw no tears from eyeballs. I can’t imagine the hardcore fans are going to give much of a shit either. As long as you’re not recasting Lawrence or one of the boys, the cash cow will continue to moo on.

But for those of us who do pay attention to directors, who would be a good choice? Matthew Vaughn can do kid violence. Maybe he’d be a good choice, were he not already busy with other Jenny Lawrence properties. How about Haneke? Mike Leigh could pinch hit for a teeny franchise again. Could be a good time for someone like Joe Cornish to sell out- he’s worked with kids and violence and effects! Maybe someone like George Nolfi?

We’ll update if this turns out to be premature, and of course we’ll let you know when a replacement happens.

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