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'Hunger Games' Sequel May Be Delayed By Tense Contract Negotiations

The Huffington Post  |  By Posted: 04/ 5/2012 4:25 pm Updated: 04/ 5/2012 5:34 pm

Hunger Games
Contract talks with "Hunger Games" director Gary Ross are reportedly creating tension for Lionsgate in the wake of key executives' departure.

For a studio that is celebrating its $363 million-and-counting hit "The Hunger Games," Lionsgate seems to be in an awkward spot.

"Hunger Games" screenwriter-director Gary Ross is pricing himself above what the studio wants to pay for the blockbuster's sequel, "Catching Fire," and tensions could delay a hoped-for fall shoot date, The Hollywood Reporter wrote Wednesday. The second installment is scheduled for a Nov. 22, 2013 release.

Lionsgate and the director didn't even begin negotiations until just three weeks before "The Hunger Games" opening, when the teen-targeted film about reality TV style death matches appeared to be a sure-fire smash, the trade daily said. It added that Ross has yet to revise the script for the sequel, from the second book of Suzanne Collins' "Hunger Games" trilogy.

Ross has some bargaining power. For a relatively cheap $3 million salary (plus a reported 5 percent of profits), he delivered one of Hollywood's most cost-efficient hits in recent memory, finishing under-budget at $78 million, departing Lionsgate executive Joe Drake told The Huffington Post in an earlier story.

Word of sputtering negotiations comes amid continued silence over the departure of key Lionsgate executives behind "The Hunger Games." Drake, the motion picture president and co-COO of the studio, shepherded the project from inception to fruition, along with production president Alli Shearmur. (Former Disney big Nina Jacobson brought the project and a reasonably priced book deal to Lionsgate.)

The Lionsgate honchos have apparently been replaced by executives from Summit, the "Twilight"-birthing studio that Lionsgate purchased for $412 million in January.

It remains unclear whether Drake was flat-out fired, walked away a winner of his own accord, or a combination of both as he reportedly negotiates his farewell.

Neither Drake nor Shearmur would consent to an interview, a studio spokeswoman told HuffPost.

Hollywood is a funny place. On Wall Street, executives can lose billions and still get multimillion dollar bonuses. But in show business, the brains behind a potential billion-dollar series can be shown the door.

Vulture had a sharp take on Lionsgate's predicament: Either the studio felt the executives were expendable (not likely) or their exits were a condition of the merger, which will result in more cash flow as a result of Lionsgate now able to profit on another "Twilight" film. Lots of nuance to either possibility, including recent flops by both studios.

'Hungers Games' Stars:

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    NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 20: Actress Jennifer Lawrence attends the Cinema Society & Calvin Klein Collection screening of 'The Hunger Games' at SVA Theatre on March 20, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images)

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    NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 20: (L-R) Liam Hemsworth, Josh Hutcherson, Director Gary Ross and Jennifer Lawrence attend the Cinema Society & Calvin Klein Collection screening of 'The Hunger Games' at SVA Theatre on March 20, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images)

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    NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 20: Actor Liam Hemsworth attends the Cinema Society & Calvin Klein Collection screening of 'The Hunger Games' at SVA Theatre on March 20, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images)

  • The Cinema Society & Calvin Klein Collection Host A Screening Of "The Hunger Games" - Inside Arrivals

    NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 20: Actress Jennifer Lawrence attends the Cinema Society & Calvin Klein Collection screening of 'The Hunger Games' at SVA Theatre on March 20, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images)

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    NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 20: Actor Stanley Tucci (L) attends the Cinema Society & Calvin Klein Collection screening of 'The Hunger Games' at SVA Theatre on March 20, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images)

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    NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 20: Actor Josh Hutcherson attends the Cinema Society & Calvin Klein Collection screening of 'The Hunger Games' at SVA Theatre on March 20, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images)

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    NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 20: Actor Liam Hemsworth attends the Cinema Society & Calvin Klein Collection screening of 'The Hunger Games' at SVA Theatre on March 20, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images)

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    NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 20: Liam Hemsworth and Jennifer Lawrence attend the party following a screening of 'The Hunger Games' hosted by The Cinema Society and Calvin Klein Collection at The Top of The Standard on March 20, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images)

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    NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 20: Zoe Kravitz attends the party following a screening of 'The Hunger Games' hosted by The Cinema Society and Calvin Klein Collection at The Top of The Standard on March 20, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images)

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    NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 20: (L-R) Liam Hemsworth, Isabelle Fuhrman, Josh Hutcherson, Director Gary Ross and Jennifer Lawrence attends the Cinema Society & Calvin Klein Collection screening of 'The Hunger Games' at SVA Theatre on March 20, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images)

  • The Cinema Society & Calvin Klein Collection Host A Screening Of "The Hunger Games" - Outside Arrivals

    NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 20: Director Gary Ross attends the Cinema Society & Calvin Klein Collection screening of 'The Hunger Games' at SVA Theatre on March 20, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images)

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    NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 20: Tony Danza attends the party following a screening of 'The Hunger Games' hosted by The Cinema Society and Calvin Klein Collection at The Top of The Standard on March 20, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images)

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    NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 20: Actress Abigail Breslin attends the Cinema Society & Calvin Klein Collection screening of 'The Hunger Games' at SVA Theatre on March 20, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images)

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    NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 20: Josh Hutcherson attends the Cinema Society & Calvin Klein Collection screening of 'The Hunger Games' at SVA Theatre on March 20, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images)

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    NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 20: Cuba Gooding Jr attends the party following a screening of 'The Hunger Games' hosted by The Cinema Society and Calvin Klein Collection at The Top of The Standard on March 20, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images)

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    Liam Hemsworth in Dolce & Gabbana

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    LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 12: Actress Amy Paffrath arrives to the premiere of Lionsgate's 'The Hunger Games' at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on March 12, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)

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    LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 12: Actor Stanley Tucci arrives to the premiere of Lionsgate's 'The Hunger Games' at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on March 12, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)

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    LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 12: Actors Josh Hutcherson (L) and Jennifer Lawrence attend 'The Hunger Games' Los Angeles Premiere on March 12, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Mark Davis/Getty Images)

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    LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 12: (L-R) Actors Josh Hutcherson, Jennifer Lawrence and Liam Hemsworth arrive at 'The Hunger Games' Los Angeles premiere held at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on March 12, 2012 in Los Angeles, United States. (Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images)

  • Actress Garcelle Beauvais arrives for t

    Actress Garcelle Beauvais arrives for the premiere of Lionsgate's 'The Hunger Games' at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on March 12, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. AFP PHOTO/JOE KLAMAR (Photo credit should read JOE KLAMAR/AFP/Getty Images)

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    LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 12: Actress Odette Annable arrives to the premiere of Lionsgate's 'The Hunger Games' at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on March 12, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)

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    LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 12: TV personality Kelly Osborne arrives to the premiere of Lionsgate's 'The Hunger Games' at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on March 12, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)

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    LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 12: Actor Zachary Gordon arrives to the premiere of Lionsgate's 'The Hunger Games' at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on March 12, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)

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    LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 12: Actor Toby Jones arrives to the premiere of Lionsgate's 'The Hunger Games' at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on March 12, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)

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    LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 12: Actress Isabelle Fuhrman arrives to the premiere of Lionsgate's 'The Hunger Games' at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on March 12, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)

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    LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 12: Actress Willow Shields arrives to the premiere of Lionsgate's 'The Hunger Games' at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on March 12, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)

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    LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 12: Author Suzanne Collins arrives to the premiere of Lionsgate's 'The Hunger Games' at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on March 12, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)

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    LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 12: Actor Benjamin Bratt arrives to the premiere of Lionsgate's 'The Hunger Games' at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on March 12, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)

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    LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 12: Actress Garcelle Beauvais arrives to the premiere of Lionsgate's 'The Hunger Games' at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on March 12, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)

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    LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 12: Actor Kevin McHale arrives to the premiere of Lionsgate's 'The Hunger Games' at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on March 12, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)

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    LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 12: Actor Woody Harrelson arrives to the premiere of Lionsgate's 'The Hunger Games' at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on March 12, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)

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    LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 12: Producer Ninia Jacobson arrives to the premiere of Lionsgate's 'The Hunger Games' at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on March 12, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)

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    LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 12: Actress Leslie Mann arrives at 'The Hunger Games' Los Angeles premiere held at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on March 12, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Mark Davis/Getty Images)

  • Actress Kalia Prescott arrives at the pr

    Actress Kalia Prescott arrives at the premiere of Lionsgate's 'The Hunger Games' at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on March 12, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. AFP PHOTO/JOE KLAMAR (Photo credit should read JOE KLAMAR/AFP/Getty Images)

  • TV Personality Kendall Jenner arrives a

    TV Personality Kendall Jenner arrives at the premiere of Lionsgate's 'The Hunger Games' at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on March 12, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. AFP PHOTO/JOE KLAMAR (Photo credit should read JOE KLAMAR/AFP/Getty Images)

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