Studio Shortlists

'Catching Fire' Director Wishlist is Irksome In Its Revelations

Only the sexiest and buzzworthy names are released

As soon as Gary Ross announced he wouldn't return to direct The Hunger Games sequel Catching Fire the Internet exploded with suggestions, the loudest of which was Alfonso Cuaron, whom is often credited with turning the Harry Potter franchise into a more adult outing with his adaptation of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.

Well, go figure, over at the Los Angeles Times they have a list of three directors (they've been supplied oh so secretively) Lionsgate hopes to secure to fill Ross's shoes and guess who's on it...

Only three names are mentioned out of a supposed seven or eight on the master list, one of them Cuaron along with David Cronenberg and Babel helmer Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu. Word is qualifications for making the studio's list included "enough credits and accolades to appeal to ["The Hunger Games" author Suzanne Collins], who is much more interested in quality filmmaking than box-office prowess" and a director with "an even keel; no petulant crybabies allowed."

Then the article says Lionsgate is "hoping to re-create the Harry Potter moment when Warner Bros. brought Alfonso Cuaron to direct the third film in the series." What does that mean? There has only been one film in the franchise so far. Is this to say Lionsgate is looking at The Hunger Games with the same eye we all look at the first two Christopher Columbus-directed Harry Potter films? Or maybe Catching Fire just needs more purple. Please, explain this to me.

While I'll be the first to say the direction on The Hunger Games wasn't particularly strong and the extreme use of close-ups and handheld camerawork was a bit distracting (though it was used to help ensure a PG-13 rating), but does the franchise need a makeover equivalent to the immense leap the Potter franchise took moving from Chamber of Secrets to Azkaban? Cuaron did a great job on Azkaban, certainly marking a new direction for the franchise, but I fail to see any comparison to The Hunger Games outside both franchises are huge money makers.

Want to follow in the footsteps of Harry Potter? Don't hire Cuaron, take a risk on someone unexpected, that's what Warner Bros. did.

The "Times" article seems to also be forgetting their own words, focusing on only three directors despite noting the studio's "master list is seven or eight names long, all men, and all have some significant credits to their name." So, those other four or five are no-gos? Or just aren't sexy enough to leak to the press and keep people talking about Catching Fire?

If Suzanne Collins has as much pull as this article seems to suggest and is interested in quality over box-office receipts, then why doesn't she step up and tell them to make a film that is as thought-provoking and intense as the books she wrote? Or, at the very least, elevate the story beyond plot points and details and get to the heart of the characters.

This kind of manipulation of the press is irksome and don't think many won't be pouncing on the small note that none of the contenders for the job are women directors. I guess they don't have enough credits to their name... I wonder why?

Oh, and on a side note, I don't see Cuaron taking the job, especially with the amount of post production work he has going on Gravity, which is just one more reason to look at this list as bogus press baiting. As for the other two, I don't see it either, but that's just gut instinct.

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  • bill

    none of these directors will do it, i doubt. i want a better movie then the first...i still think the world of harry potter was far better created

    • Susan

      If he was interested in the material, I could see Cronenberg maybe, just maybe, dipping his toes into this. It would allow him some minor sway with future projects, which he always has issues getting funding for.

      • Sean Broyles

        It is of interest to note the reason given by Gary Ross as to why he chose not to direct the second film. To paraphrase, he basically stated that he didn't think he would be able to do it right in the time allotted by Lionsgate. Given the high ticket sales they are probably hot to produce the sequel in as short amount of time as possible. A director of true merit might not want their name attached to a possibly compromised project.

  • Leonardo

    Do studios actually give a crap about the writers opinion? i don't think so, they will go over her and choose whatever director they'll think can fit with the movie.

    • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/ Brad Brevet

      If it's written into the contract that she has a say, then yes. JK Rowling had that deal at Warner Bros. for Harry Potter.

  • Snicket

    Joe Wright is still my number 1 but I would love to see what a woman director would do with it. Patty Jenkins is free right?

    Most choices I see people post on the net are the stupidest choices possible, Zach Snyder, James Cameron, Nolan, Jackson...it's like whenever there is an opening for a high profile film the same names are thrown into the ring.

  • adu

    I have a feeling they will be going for a big name director rather than a lesser known one.

  • Kyle Coley

    I still say Danny Boyle

    • Liathach

      He's busy with the Olympic opening ceremony until August. It can't be done.

  • Drew

    How about Debra Granik? Duncan Jones would also be a good fit and a realistic choice.

    • bss121

      Duncan Jones is a great idea. Haven't seen his name thrown around at all but I think he'd be perfect.

  • Leonardo

    Yeah now that i remembered it Duncan Jones should be in there too he has two great movies and has show me that he can handle the big-budget issue.

  • Abby

    The reasons behind requesting Alfonso Quaron may be a bit questionable, but his talent is not. Look at his other films: Children of Men, case in point. He has a comprehension of the dystopian, apocalyptic aesthetic, and not to mention a talent for honing in on what works stylistically for each narrative. THAT's why Prisoner of Azkaban was successful. He understood the world of the books and successfully translated that into film. I think this is precisely what the Hunger Games needs. It is much deeper and darker than came across in the film.

  • http://them0vieblog.com Darren

    The reasons for the constant Harry Potter comparisons seem fairly obvious. If you're a successful young adult film adapted from a series of best-selling books, you're either going to be compared to Twilight or Harry Potter. Potter has considerably stronger critical and public cache, so you try to push that idea forward to avoid the inevitable Twilight comparisons. Part of the reason the Hunger Games did so well was that it avoided the pigeon-holing that Twilight received - boys were happily taken along, unlike Twilight. They want to keep that broader appeal, so it'll be all about Harry Potter.

  • Paul

    Seeing as how only these three names were released of all the ones on "the list" I don't see any of them getting the job. Really this sounds like the studio is putting out these names to placate the fan base & the movie nerd audience in general to say "Hey, we're looking at artists first".

    Honestly, this film is going to a journeyman director I'm sure. I can't see a real big name filmmaker -I.E. Someone who is ALWAYS on Fan-wish lists - get the job and it will be someone less known. I mean was anyone supporting David Yates getting a job on Harry Potter 5? No. Because no one KNEW who David Yates was.

    Whoever directs "Catching Fire", it won't be a filmmaker who has been making films for decades and has his own grandscale fanbase.

    I stand by my belief that the perfect filmmaker to handle Catching Fire is Gavin O'Connor. But we'll see. Sooner rather than later.

  • Arturo

    Inarritu is the best in my opinion, only Oscar nominee of the three for his directing. As an Inarritu fan I would love it and believe he could deliver a very dark adaptation, however I don't see him doing something this kiddy.

    • John Debono

      Cuaron is without a doubt the best suited director out of the three for Catching Fire, (Re-watch the uprising long take in Children of Men if you disagree.) Though I doubt he will take the job, personally, I am on the Duncan Jones band wagon. He has proven to be an amazing talent but is new enough that the decision will be exciting for most audiences. If this could lead to Jones producing his own Children of Men or Gravity, I will personally pay his check.

      • Arturo

        Based on some of the themes of Cuaron's best achievements, he might indeed be better suited for Catching fire... Had not thought about Jones, a great up and coming director, I'm inspired.

  • Leonardo

    A Funny choice that only will happen in my head is Brain DePalma, what do you think of this one!

  • Nikki

    my choice would be Kathryn Bigelow, dont know why.....

  • JunJunM3

    Cuaron would be nice. Please, not Michael Bay.

  • WCSfantatic

    I'm a hardcore Potter fan, but the reason I'd champion Cauron is Children of Men, not HP:PoA, which some mistakenly believe elevated the franchise. Well, the critics may have loved it and there's moments of brilliance but in actuality it was the lowest grossing of the series and arguably more childish then the first two installements..what with the ridiculous talking heads, physics defying whomping willow scene, etc. Children of Men on the other hand is a masterpiece through and through and if he was allowed to bring the same gritty post apocolyptic/dystopian thriller feel to the Hunger Games sequel it could be something really special. Not that The Hunger Games wasn't special...it's my favorite film of the decade in fact...but I won't deny that it did play a bit safe, the camera work was irritating, etc.

  • WCSfantatic

    BTW, is too far-fetched or cliche to suggest Christopher Nolan? FilmMisery did in their article...and as they pointed out, unlike a lot of these other directors being mentioned Nolan will actually have time on his hands. I don't believe he's doing anything immediately after Batman, other then producing the Superman reboot.

  • TareX

    Rupert Wyatt’s depiction of the Apes uprising was so good, I can totally see him replicating the same events in Panem. However, I think Academy Award Winner Kathryn Bigelow would produce a more visceral movie, and also bring upon the necessary darkness required for Mockingjay. Between these two, I think the person more passionate about the story-arc should get the position.

  • Athena

    Debra Granik, Katherine Bigelow, Patty Jenkins and how about Joss Whedon?.

  • Liathach

    If Ross wasn't happy with the timing and the script still needs work and production has to start in August, I can't see any big-name director wanting to take it on - they wouldn't have time to put their mark on it, and it could end up being a complete mess.

  • Kristen K.

    Not to add to the game of "let's name a big name director", but I honestly would love to see Fincher tackle Catching Fire. I know he won't & that he has his franchise in the "Girl w/the Dragon Tattoo" series, but I honestly wish he would take a shot. He has the gritty realist perspective that would be really interesting to see in something as dystopian as The Hunger Games. I also think he would be able to grasp the grandiose themes of the last 2 books without dumbing them down to a teenage audience.

  • Feedback

    Ben Affleck. GET IT DONE LIONSGATE.