Bennet Miller and Francis Lawrence added to Catching Fire director shortlist

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Last week we reported on the news that a couple of pretty high profile directors were possibly being courted to be Gary Ross’ replacement on the second Hunger Games story, Catching Fire. The highly unlikely choice of David Cronenberg joined Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu and my personal pick, Alfonso Cuaron, on an apparent studio shortlist.

Well it seems that that shortlist just got a bit longer with Moneyball director Bennet Miller and I Am Legend and Constantine director Francis Lawrence’s names now having been thrown into the ring as well.

Miller might by the most acclaimed of the two, proving with the Oscar nominated baseball movie that he can handle drama without the melo- prefix, but there is a massive question mark hanging over his head, as he’s never really had to take on an action scene. And while he does have the advantage of knowing what it’s like to have to pick up somebody else’s pieces though, as he had to unexpectedly jump into Moneyball after Steven Soderbergh got given the boot by the studios due to differences of opinion on the vision for the film, he might not want to with the Hunger Games.

His long in development pet project, Foxcatcher, is finally gaining some traction, with Mark Ruffalo recently being cast in the lead, and it’s doubtful whether he might want to halt that forward momentum once again. Then again, at last count there were 339 million very enticing reasons for him to join the franchise.

Now while Cuaron is still top of my list of choices, if he doesn’t get the nod, I really wouldn’t mind seeing what Francis Lawrence can bring to the next chapter in Katniss’ Everdeen’s story. While the argument can be made that both I Am Legend and Constantine were really bad adaptations due to how far they strayed from their respective source material, as standalone films they were both rather enjoyable.

I Am Legend  is a particularly good litmus test to see if Lawrence has all the necessary skills to bring Catching Fire to the screen. There is certainly a huge similarity in the dystopian and somber tone of the two stories, as well as having a central character that has to go through a bit of an emotional rollercoaster, while still balancing it all out with visceral action sequences. And tacked on, studio mandated, rubbish ending notwithstanding, Lawrence definitely pulled that off on Legend.

The question though is whether or not he will be able to handle the incredibly tight production window of just 4 months, due to star Jennifer Lawrence’s (no relation) prior commitments to the X-Men: First Class sequel.

With time swiftly running out, Lionsgate is going to have to make a decision pretty soon, and as soon as they do, we’ll let you know about it.

Last Updated: April 19, 2012

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