It's official: Gary Ross has bowed out of directing the Hunger Games sequel, Catching Fire By Kervyn CloetePosted on April 11, 20123 min read1 Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Google+ Share on Reddit Share on Pinterest Share on Linkedin Share on Tumblr Speculation had been rife for days that this would happen, and now it’s finally become a reality. Despite The Hunger Games currently devouring all competition, director and co-script writer Gary Ross has decided to call it quits on the franchise.But as it turns out, his motivation for quitting is not a financial one, as some had been reporting, but rather a simple matter of artistic integrity and time.Deadline has received the following statement from the director himself:“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.”“I loved making The Hunger Games – it was the happiest experience of my professional life. 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. And contrary to what has been reported, negotiations with Lionsgate have not been problematic. They have also been very understanding of me through this difficult decision.” “I also cannot say enough about the people I worked with: Producer Nina Jacobson, a great collaborator and a true friend; the brilliant Suzanne Collins, who entrusted us with her most amazing and important story; the gifted and remarkable Jennifer Lawrence whose performance exceeded my wildest expectations, and the rest of the incredible cast, whom I am proud to call my friends.”“To the fans I want to say thank you for your support your faith, your enthusiasm and your trust. Hard as this may be to understand I am trying to keep that trust with you. Thank you all. It’s been a wonderful experience.”So it would seem that as we reported yesterday, the supposed lowball salary offers from Lionsgate (which did not make sense in the context of the film’s phenomenal boz-office success) was nothing but normal negotiations wrangling, but it was the 4 month deadline (until star Jennifer Lawrence has to begin work on the Xmen: First Class sequel) to produce a worthy sequel that was the clincher.Lionsgate has since responded with a statement of their own: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. 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.In a way I have to respect the man’s decision, as he clearly had a vision for this film and was not willing to compromise quality just for the sake of churning out another movie. My biggest concern right now however, is what does Lionsgate do now? Not only is there a crazy amount of work still needed to be done to make this film happen, but Ross himself has been very heavily involved in all aspects thus far. Whoever they pick as a replacement (which has to happen real soon) would have to pretty much check their egos at the door and just pick up where he left off, without too much deviation or chances are they will not be making their already tight deadline.