Is Lionsgate putting the cart before the horse or do they legitimately have a big tentpole on their hands? It's pretty standard practice these days for a studio to start development on a sequel months before a film comes out, but with a November 22, 2013 release date already locked in for "The Hunger Games" followup "Catching Fire," director Gary Ross is going be getting out of one fire and headed right into another. And if he and the studio want to keep the very high expectations of fans happy, they'll need someone with some serious credentials to help them get things moving fast.
Deadline reports that with Ross in a mad dash to finish "The Hunger Games," he won't have time to work on the script for the followup, which he plans to direct, with author Suzanne Collins. Instead, Lionsgate is aiming high, hoping to snare Oscar-winning writer Simon Beaufoy ("Slumdog Millionaire," "127 Hours," the underrated "Miss Pettigrew Lives For A Day") to adapt "Catching Fire." It's an odd choice. Beaufoy is known more for respectable dramas, not tween apocalyptic death match movies, and he's never done tentpole fare before either so it'll be a whole new world for him, one that will also find him answering to a lot of people. But it's likely a very attractive paycheck, which could be a strong lure as well, and Lord knows, he's got the chops.
To bring you up to speed, the sequel finds Katniss and Peeta on the twisted Victory Tour as talks of an uprising against the Capitol -- which the duo have helped inspire -- begin to circulate. The story opens up a bit more about the fictional nation of Panem as things gear up for another edition of the deadly Hunger Games. Whether or not the box office receipts for "The Hunger Games" will even allow this story to be told, we'll soon see.
No start date on "Catching Fire," but given the release date, late summer/early fall next year is likely. So we'll have to wait to see how this all plays out, but until then, here are two more images from "The Hunger Games" courtesy of People. WTF is going on with Elizabeth Banks? We'll find out on March 9, 2012.