It's hard to know exactly how important the screenwriter's role is when adapting a very popular, very well-loved franchise. Sure they'll make choices about condensing the narratives, rewriting things to be more cinematic and maybe even changing story arcs, but there are so many factors at play-- what the studio wants, what the fans want, what the director wants, what the original author wants-- that a screenwriter is essentially a mediator between a lot of different demands. So while it's good news to hear, via Deadline, that Oscar winner Simon Beaufoy is being courted to write the sequel to The Hunger Games, titled Catching Fire, it's not necessarily a sign of anything good or bad for the future.

What may very well be a good sign, though, is that director Gary Ross is planning to return after wrapping up work on the first installment, which comes to theaters on March 23. Nothing in Ross's resume particularly suggested he would be perfect for The Hunger Games-- his two previous directing credits are Seabiscuit and Pleasantville-- but the new trailer hit pretty much every right note, and indicated that Ross is doing right by the much-loved source material.

Ross had actually been planning to adapt the second screenplay himself with author Suzanne Collins, as he had for the first movie, but post-production duties got in the way. Unable to perform the job, Ross turned Beaufoy, who won an Oscar for writing Slumdog Milionaire and is also behind scripts like The Full Monty and 127 Hours. Obvious Beaufoy has quality credits to his name, and even if he just finds himself wading through a tricky book-- Catching Fire, as the middle of a three-part story, isn't nearly as neat a narrative as The Hunger Games-- he should be well equipped for the challenge. By the time The Hunger Games comes to theaters in March, we might already have a finished Beaufoy script to look forward as we root for the seemingly inevitable sequel. Bring it on.

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