Gary Ross, the director of the record breaking box office success, "The Hunger Games," announced that he will not be returning to direct the sequel.
In a statement, Ross said, "Despite recent speculation in the media, and after difficult but sincere consideration, I have decided not to direct ‘Catching Fire.’ As a writer and a director, I simply don’t have the time I need to write and prep the movie I would have wanted to make because of the fixed and tight production schedule," according to The New York Times.
Ross denied that his stepping down had anything to do with negotiations with Lionsgate turning sour, saying, "They have also been very understanding of me through this difficult decision," according to ABC News.
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Lionsgate said in a statement, "We're very sorry that Gary Ross has chosen not to direct Catching Fire. We were really looking forward to making the movie with him. He did an incredible job on the first film and we are grateful for his work," according to the Guardian.
Simon Beaufoy, of "Slumdog Millionaire" fame, has been drafted to work on the screenplay with the books' author Suzanne Collins, and all the actors are set to return for the sequel.
"Catching Fire," the second installment in the series, is expected to be released in November 2013.
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