Francis Lawrence to Direct <i>Hunger Games: Catching Fire</i>

As we wrote Thursday, Lionsgate narrowed the candidates to direct the fall-shooting sequel to the blockbuster Hunger Games to Moneyball's Bennett Miller and I Am Legend's Francis Lawrence. As expected, the studio arrived quickly at its decision, with Heat Vision now reporting the job has been offered to Lawrence.

Gary Ross, who directed the first movie, decided to bow out because of the limited time before the film's August/September start date, which has to be met head-on because star Jennifer Lawrence begins filming X-Men: First Class 2 in January. His exit, combined with the narrow production window, made it important to get someone in the director's chair quickly.

Lionsgate already has a script by Simon Beaufoy (Slumdog Millionaire), based on the second novel in Suzanne Collins' bestselling series. Lawrence has experience with both the action and drama, as he's previously directed I Am Legend, Constantine and Water For Elephants.

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