Here's part of Ross' statement:
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.
CAA, Ross PR and Lionsgate told everyone the same thing last Friday. “As far as we know, he’s still in negotiations” and that’s the line that they pushed on us. Note, Lionsgate asked for our contact info, we passed it on and they did not call, deny the story or ask us to take it down. Reps for Ross were also surprised, and towed the "negotiations" line, but were out of the loop as well, as the director was on holiday with his family this weekend and apparently could not be reached. But the truth of the matter is before he went on that holiday, Ross already had drafted his letter of intent to Lionsgate which essentially read like this: “Thanks, but no thanks, it’s been fun, but I’d like to do other things now. Thanks for the opportunity, etc.”
There’s no ill-will here or anything, but despite other outlets drawing doubt (and Deadline towing the studio line, something they pride themselves on never doing), this was the story from day one. Ross had completed his mission and just wanted to move on. Lionsgate knew this, but wanted to get all their ducks in a row before messaging this out to everyone -- i.e., putting the right studio spin on it -- and we can’t blame them. All companies wanna protect their interests.
Either way, Gary Ross, is not directing “Catching Fire” like we told you he wouldn’t. Exclusive?