Hunger Games director reveals real reason he passed on the sequel

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Dec 17, 2012, 3:16 PM EST

After a few weeks of will-he-won't-he, we now know for sure that Hunger Games director Gary Ross will not be back for the sequel Catching Fire. So, why didn't he want to direct what will surely be a monster hit?

Apparently, Ross believes the production schedule is too tight to make the movie he want to make. So, instead of compromising his standards, he has opted not to return.

"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," he said in a statement. "I loved making The Hunger Games—it was the happiest experience of my professional life. Lionsgate was supportive of me in a manner that few directors ever experience in a franchise: they empowered me to make the film I wanted to make and backed the movie in a way that requires no explanation beyond the remarkable results. And contrary to what has been reported, negotiations with Lionsgate have not been problematic. They have also been very understanding of me through this difficult decision."

Ross went on to praise everyone involved, and it's nice to see that this ordeal has (apparently) ended amicably. But it's a little discouraging to know that not even the original director thinks the Catching Fire production rush will end well.

Not long after Ross' statement, Lionsgate put out an equally kind comment, saying it hopes to work with him again in the future.

"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," the studio stated. "He did an incredible job on the first film and we are grateful for his work. This will not be the end of our relationship, as we consider Ross to be part of the Lionsgate family and look forward to working with him in the future."

So there you have it: Let the search for a new director officially begin.

What do you think? Did Ross make the right decision here?

(via Comic Book Movie)