Francis Lawrence (I Am Legend and Constantine) has chosen to direct Catching Fire, the sequel to The Hunger Games. Reportedly, the competition came down to Lawrence and Moneyball’s Bennett Miller, but Miller didn’t like the rushed production schedule needed to meet the studio’s already-announced release date of Nov. 22, 2013. (Let’s hope that’s not wishful thinking.)
Lawrence is an interesting choice. I think of him more as a visual stylist coming off Constantine, but he did handle a pretty sprawling story in Will Smith’s I Am Legend. Both of those films were fantasy/sci-fi projects, and both were adaptations of existing material – Richard Matheson’s I Am Legend novel, and Constantine is the star of the comic book series Hellblazer – so he has experience translating stories. (For what it’s worth, Moneyball was a book, too, so that’s probably why Miller was a front-runner.) Also, Lawrence built a compelling and complicated world overrun by mutations for I Am Legend, and world-building was Hunger Games helmer Gary Ross’ Achilles’ heel.