Gary Ross, the writer and director of The Hunger Games, has officially passed on directing the much-anticipated sequel in the franchise, Catching Fire.
The official announcement comes from the director himself, after recent speculation about his possible departure from the franchise. The online world was flooded with rumors that he had already passed on the film because of financial reasons.
Lionsgate, the studio behind the film, was expecting to reach a deal with the director after Easter weekend.
The Hunger Games is currently number one in its third week at the box office and has already grossed over $460 million.
The decision follows in the footsteps of box office hits such as Harry Potter and Twilight, both of which were franchise films that switched things up by reaching out to other directors for their sequels.
Gary Ross revealed that his decision to step away from the sequel was because of time constraints. In an official statement, he said, “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.”
Lionsgate is moving quickly for the sequel, with plans of shooting Catching Fire as early as August.
Gary Ross says he has a number of projects in the works, but has not officially announced plans for his next film.
The director’s departure now opens up talks about a potential replacement director for Catching Fire.