Forget “arty” filmmakers such as Alfonso Cuarón, Alejandro González Iñárritu, and David Cronenberg. Lionsgate is now eyeing Moneyball / Capote's Bennett Miller and I Am Legend / Constantine's Francis Lawrence to helm Catching Fire, the sequel to Gary Ross' The Hunger Games. According to several reports, Lawrence is the apparent front-runner.
Although he doesn't have anything like The Fly or Scanners or Dead Ringers on his resume, the Austrian-born Lawrence does have at least one key Cronenberg connection: Robert Pattinson, the star of Lawrence's circus drama Water for Elephants and of Cronenberg's upcoming comedy / drama / thriller / who-knows-what-else Cosmopolis. Bennett Miller, for his part, has a connection to González Iñárritu: Brad Pitt, the star of both Moneyball and Babel.
Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, and Liam Hemsworth star in The Hunger Games and will return for Catching Fire, based on Suzanne Collins' bestselling novel. Slumdog Millionaire's Simon Beaufoy is currently working on the Catching Fire screenplay. Shooting is expected to begin sometime in August, so Jennifer Lawrence can be free to begin work on 20th Century Fox's sequel to X-Men: First Class in January 2013.
In other words, Lionsgate should be announcing Gary Ross' replacement in the next few days. Besides the aforementioned directors, also considered by Lionsgate (at least officially) were Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close / The Hours' Stephen Daldry, Unstoppable / The Hunger's Tony Scott, and Let the Right One In / Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy's Tomas Alfredson.
The Hunger Games photo: Murray Close / Lionsgate.