Gary Ross seemed positively ecstatic about returning to direct "Catching Fire," the sequel to "The Hunger Games," when Moviefone chatted with the director earlier this year.
"I'm looking forward to it," he said. "Simon Beaufoy ['Slumdog Millionaire'], who's a writer I've been a fan of for a long, long time, is doing the script. I can't write the 'Catching Fire' script right now because I'm finishing ['Hunger Games'], and we're on a schedule where the script has to get written right now. So I'm unbelievably fortunate that someone like Simon is going to be writing the script. [...] That's a thrill. He's somebody that I respect and I just love his work."
It looks like Ross will have to continue to respect and love Beaufoy's work from afar: according to Indiewire's blog The Playlist, Ross has decided against directing "Catching Fire."
Per the site, Ross's decision wasn't a monetary one, but a matter of not wanting to do the same thing over again. That flies in the face of reports from earlier this week, which revealed that negotiations between Ross and "Hunger Games" studio Lionsgate had gone south.
Ross was paid only $3 million to direct "The Hunger Games," which has earned $377 million worldwide since its release on March 23. The director will reportedly get a five-percent cut of the backend, but he wanted a significant raise for the second film, which is set to start shooting in August or September.
Before "The Hunger Games," Ross was best known for his work on "Seabiscuit" and "Pleasantville," as well as for writing the script to "Big." He was instrumental in casting Jennifer Lawrence in "The Hunger Games," and the actress said on numerous occassions how much she enjoyed working for him.
As reported earlier on Friday, Lawrence will have time in her schedule to return for "Catching Fire" this fall, since Fox moved its "X-Men" sequel -- which Lawrence will co-star in -- to January.
The Huffington Post has reached out to Ross' representatives, but they have yet to respond with confirmation.
"Catching Fire" is due in theaters on Nov. 22, 2013. If Ross is indeed out, the search for a new director begins yesterday.
UPDATE: According to Deadline.com, Ross has not yet bowed out.
[via Indiewire/The Playlist]
PHOTOS: "Hunger Games" Stars
THE spot for your favorite fan theories and the best movie recs. Learn more