Hot on the heels of Lionsgate’s official announcement that Francis Lawrence will direct Catching Fire, the sequel to The Hunger Games, comes more news about the second installment in the trilogy. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Oscar-winning scribe Michael Arndt is in talks to work on the script.
Arndt won his gold statue for Little Miss Sunshine, and also has Toy Story 3 to his credit. Point is he knows his way around a mega-blockbuster franchise aimed at younger crowds. It isn’t entirely clear what Arndt’s role will be in regards to Catching Fire. Simon Beufoy (Slumdog Millionaire) has handled the early drafts of the adaptation of Suzanne Collins’ novel. It remains to be seen if Arndt is in line for some minor tinkering and fine-tuning, or for a complete tear-it-down-build-it-back-up-again overhaul.
Whatever the extent of the job, Arndt will have to be quick about it. Lionsgate has it’s eye on late summer as a start date for production on Catching Fire. The quick turnaround time, partially due to star Jennifer Lawrence’s obligations to Fox and their X-Men: First Class sequel (she plays a young Mystique), is one of the reasons that Gary Ross opted not to return as director. And you can be sure that the studio wants to keep the property fresh in audience’s minds.
Arndt may seem like an odd choice, but Little Miss Sunshine has an ample amount of thematic darkness, what with a suicidal Steve Carrel and a heroin addict Alan Arkin. While this isn’t necessarily the dystopian oppression of the world of The Hunger Games, the protagonist, Katniss Everdeen (Lawrence) spends much of Catching Fire battling internal demons as well as external evils.