One of my favorite quotes describing the business of show business is belowThe article below describes another facet of Hollywood.
Well, it's called "show business", it's not called "show". Even though it's called "show business", ain't no business, no show. You know, they ought to call it "business show", actually. - Denzel Washington
|Left to Right: The Hunger Games star Jennifer Lawrence and director Gary Ross|
4/4/2012 by Kim Masters - Hollywood Reporter
Despite the movie's box-office records, the director isn't locked up as Lionsgate could pull a "Twilight"-style switcheroo over money.
This story first appeared in the April 13 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
Now that The Hunger Games is a hit with more than $363 million in the till, the question is whether writer-director Gary Ross will return for the next installment in the lucrative Lionsgate franchise.
Unlike stars Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth, Ross is not signed for a sequel. And negotiations for him to do the first movie were "a terrible experience," says a source with knowledge of the discussions, because Ross is a seasoned filmmaker (Pleasantville, Seabiscuit) and Lionsgate isn't accustomed to paying seasoned-filmmaker fees. He ended up taking a relatively low $3 million to write (with Billy Ray and novelist Suzanne Collins) and direct. But he will collect a very remunerative 5 percent of backend.
Sources say Ross, 55, would like a significant raise for a secondHunger Games, but Lionsgate didn't kick off negotiations with him until about three weeks before the first film's March 23 opening. By then, with tracking suggesting a huge opening weekend, Ross and his CAA reps were in no hurry to bargain.
Lionsgate has a script from Simon Beaufoy (Slumdog Millionaire) that Ross has yet to revise. The studio is in a rush to start the next film in the fall, though Fox might upset Lionsgate's plan by exercising its option on Lawrence to start another X-Men movie first. (Fox's option would trump Lionsgate's hold on Lawrence, say sources.) Adding urgency: Lionsgate already has booked a November 2013 release for Hunger Games: Catching Fire.
With other big literary properties, directors have been seen as fungible. Warner Bros. entrusted the first two Harry Potter films to Chris Columbus before employing a host of other filmmakers, and Summit memorably did not invite Catherine Hardwicke back to direct the second Twilight, despite the success of the first installment. (And Summit's Rob Friedman and Patrick Wachsberger now run Lionsgate's film division.)
But Ross will argue that his film was much better received than any in the Twilight series, with an A CinemaScore and an 85 percent "fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes in addition to huge worldwide box office. He'll contend that the movie will play longer and stronger in theaters and that he could direct his pick of other movies should Lionsgate refuse to pony up. (But to state the obvious, Hunger Games' bi-gender story line appeals to a wider audience than Twilight.)
It's always striking when a giant hit leads to anger and hurt feelings in Hollywood, but that seems to be the case here. Nonetheless, sources involved with the franchise are betting that Ross will return. "Ultimately, it will be difficult, and yet everybody will do the sane thing, which is to work it out," says one. "Everybody will end up unhappy in their own way. It's just the nature of the beast."
HUNGER GAMES: THR Film Critic Todd McCarthy suggests a few alternative directors:
Kathryn Bigelow: If The Hurt Locker and Bin Laden filmmaker wants a mainstream gig, she could elevate the pedigree of the Katniss saga.
Alfonso Cuaron: He notably upgraded the Harry Potter series with The Prisoner of Azkaban and could work his magic again here.
Mel Gibson: Don't laugh. If Catching Fire is one-third as exciting as Apocalypto, it would be dynamite. But can Mel do PG-13?
Walter Hill: The old-guard director (The Warriors) could provide style and an authentic feel for action that was missing in the first film.
Nicolas Winding Refn: If modern edginess and unexpected moves are desired for the sequel, then the Drive director could be the man to deliver them.
UPDATE:Director Gary Ross Says No to 'Catching Fire'
LOS ANGELES April 11, 2012 (AP)
Gary Ross says he won't direct "Catching Fire," the second installment in Lionsgate's blockbuster "The Hunger Games" franchise.
In a statement Tuesday, Ross says "after difficult but sincere consideration," he decided not to direct the film. He blames limited time to write and prep the film because of the fixed, tight production schedule.
Ross says making "The Hunger Games" was the happiest experience of his professional life. He also denies reports that negotiations with Lionsgate had been problematic.
Lionsgate officials say in response that they're "very sorry" Ross has chosen not to direct "Catching Fire" but they look forward to working with him on future projects. "Catching Fire" is the second installment in the franchise based on Suzanne Collins' book series. It's scheduled for release in November 2013.
- Sort of How Hollywood Works - Part 1 on the 'Nother Brother Entertainment blog here
- My Mini Review of The Hunger Games here