Gary Ross stated he will not direct Catching Fire, the second part in Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games trilogy, The Los Angeles Times reported.
“Despite recent speculation in the media, and after difficult but sincere consideration, I have decided not to direct Catching Fire,” Ross explained in a statement. “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.”
”(Directing The Hunger Games was) the happiest experience of my professional life,” Ross said. “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.”
Lionsgate gave a statement that said it was, “very sorry that Gary Ross has chosen not to direct Catching Fire. 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 second installment of the franchise is expected for a November 2013 release. We’ll be keeping an ear out for the possible directors in question for filling the very large shoes of Ross. Academy Award-winner Simon Beaufoy (Slumdog Millionaire) is set to pen Catching Fire.