Hunger Games Sequel Negotiations Barely Moving With Director Gary Ross

By Will LeBlanc | Published

The Hunger Games opened almost two weeks ago now and has hauled in astronomical box office along with positive reviews from nearly everyone who managed to scrounge together the cost of a ticket. The Suzanne Collins adaptation has pulled $258 million domestically, putting it $180 million ahead of its budget, not including the extra money it’s making overseas, and will continue to make in return viewings here in the states. To say the franchise is huge is an understatement.

Why then is Lionsgate being stingy with director Gary Ross’ paycheck? According to THR, Ross took a short $3 million for his writing duties, duties he shared with State of Play scribe Billy Ray as well as Collins, and accepted a 5% cut of the backend as a director’s fee. In this case, he stands to do pretty well from that backend, but he’s looking for better up front pay for his proposed work on Catching Fire.

Lionsgate, however, is slowing things down. Not being used to paying real money for real directors to do real movies, cutting what will likely be a $20 million paycheck for Ross to come back isn’t something they can do lightly. Understandable, sure, but based on franchises like Twilight and Harry Potter, the profits just keep getting bigger, so LGF should have no problem finding room in what will definitely be a larger budget to pay a great director to continue his vision of the series.

Listening to Ross talk about The Hunger Games, and how after reading the books he actively sought out the producers to make sure he got the job, is inspiring. It’s exactly the type of passion you want behind the camera, especially for such a loved series that can easily be handled the wrong way. We’d love to see Ross back in the chair, but if Lionsgate won’t pony up the dough, expect big changes when Catching Fire drops in November 2013. More on this as it develops.