Hunger Games Director Gary Ross Explains Why He Didn’t Return For The Sequels

Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss in The Hunger Games
(Image credit: Lionsgate)

It’s common to see film directors not sticking around to direct all of the movies in the franchise they started out with. After all, director Catherine Hardwicke left Twilight behind after the first movie to film Red Riding Hood. Chris Columbus dropped out after the first two Harry Potter films as he found directing them "exhausting.” So, what’s The Hunger Games' Gary Ross’s reasoning? Known for turning black-and-white into color in his directorial debut Pleasantville and his Academy Award-nominated film Seabiscuit, Gary Ross explains why he did not continue directing more Hunger Games movies after the first one.

Gary Ross spoke to The Hollywood Reporter about the challenges of filming The Hunger Games films. He explained that he was a writer and a director for the first film which was a lot to take on. Ross expressed no regrets about leaving the dystopian film franchise as he got to make the film Free State of Jones. While he admits that this film may not have been so popular with audiences, he still considers it his favorite project. 

I think what people didn’t realize is that I had two jobs. I wrote and I directed, and you do one of those things before you do the other. There was honestly no time to do both well in the three-and-a half months between movies so I moved on. I got to make Free State of Jones which not many people saw but remains one of my favorite pieces of work so - all good.

This Academy Award-nominated director offered audiences a different vision for adapting The Hunger Games than what appeared in the Suzanne Collins book. Ross promised a PG-13 movie of The Hunger Games in order for teen fans of the book to come to see it. If the movie were to keep the first book's grisly images of teen slaughters, this movie would have definitely needed an R-rating. It wouldn’t be fair, of course, for teens to have to worry about sneaking into an R-rated film of young adult adaptation they admire and love. 

When Gary Ross first confirmed that he would not make Catching Fire, the second film of the series, Lionsgate was reportedly “shocked” at the decision. However, Ross said that working on The Hunger Games was the “happiest experience” of his professional career. With this successful film franchise launching the careers of actors like Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen and Amandla Stenberg who played Rue, Gary Ross should feel grateful for taking part in the start of this franchise.

This may not be the last time that we see Gary Ross team up with Jennifer Lawrence as it was said a while back they would team up for the East of Eden remake. She would be playing the antagonistic character of Cathy Ames who abandoned her children and worked as a prostitute. It would be an interesting take to see this character onscreen as the 1955 version did not have any scenes of the first half of the John Steinbeck novel. While there have been no updates yet on the future book adaptation, let’s hope this is another successful project we have yet to see of Gary Ross and Jennifer Lawrence. 

If you want to know the future projects of Gary Ross going forward, stay tuned with CinemaBlend on the latest information on upcoming movies and more.

Carly Levy
Entertainment Writer

Just your average South Floridian cinephile who believes the pen is mightier than the sword.