Jennifer Lawrence and Gary Ross
Hunger Games director Gary Ross officially announced Tuesday that he will not be directing the film's sequel, Catching Fire.
In a statement, Ross wrote, "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," according to The Hollywood Reporter.
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"I loved making The Hunger Games — it was the happiest experience of my professional life," he continued. "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."
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In response, Lionsgate released its own statement. "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," it reads. "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."