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CATCHING FIRE Director: Francis Lawrence

Francis LawrenceThe Catching Fire director will be Francis Lawrence, among whose (few) feature-film credits are Reese Witherspoon / Robert Pattinson / Christoph Waltz’s Water for Elephants, Will Smith’s I Am Legend, and Keanu Reeves / Rachel Weisz’s Constantine. Deadline.com reports that Lionsgate’s other strong possibility, Moneyball / Capote director Bennett Miller, wanted the studio to delay filming so he could work on the prospective Steve Carell / Mark Ruffalo / Channing Tatum movie Foxcatcher.

Lionsgate refused to do so because The Hunger Games and Catching Fire star Jennifer Lawrence must be ready to shoot 20th Century Fox’s sequel to X-Men: First Class in January 2013.

In addition to Francis Lawrence and Bennett Miller, other contenders — or rumored contenders — for the Catching Fire directorial job were The Orphanage’s Juan Antonio Bayona, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban / Children of Men’s Alfonso Cuarón, Babel / 21 GramsAlejandro González Iñárritu, Cosmopolis / A History of ViolenceDavid Cronenberg, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close / The HoursStephen Daldry, Unstoppable / The Hunger’s Tony Scott, and Let the Right One In / Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy’s Tomas Alfredson.

The Hunger Games director Gary Ross reportedly turned down Lionsgate’s offer to direct Catching Fire because of time constraints imposed by the studio. (Initially, salary issues were also mentioned as a factor.)

In addition to Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth will be returning for Catching Fire, based on Suzanne Collins’ bestselling novel. Slumdog Millionaire’s Simon Beaufoy is currently working on the screenplay. Shooting is expected to begin in late August.

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