Now that The Hunger Games director Gary Ross is officially not directing the second movie in the series, Catching Fire, it's time to start speculating about who Lionsgate might hire. Or rather, who they should hire. As Anne Thompson at Indiewire writes, "Ross had done the heavy lifting" in creating the film version of the book series. (The Hollywood Reporter's Kim Masters has a great inside-baseball account of how Ross's commitments to direct Fox's next X-Men movie also came into play.) So whoever comes on to direct the next installment is going to have work inside some constraints set by Ross. But here's the tricky part: without giving anything away, Catching Fire gets a lot more complicated than the relatively lo-fi Hunger Games. And then fuhgeddaboutit with the third book, Mockingjay. That thing is practically off the rails. Basically the world of the story gets bigger and crazier and harder to visualize in one's head (that's actually one of the series' near-fatal flaws, everything gets a little too hard to imagine) so they're going to need someone who's kind of a visionary. Lionsgate probably has people in mind, and probably wants to get someone reasonably cheap, but let's just pretend that anyone is possible and that money is no object, and offer these suggestions.
A dream get! While Fincher hasn't done a big action movie since Alien 3 (and even that is reasonably contained), he proved he can do a sprawling anarchistic story with Fight Club, but showed a softer more kid-friendly side with The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. That's a good mix for Catching Fire, which obviously is crazy violent but also involves angsty teen romance and all that sensitive stuff. Fincher is dark enough but has also shown enough range beyond that, plus has an all-important eye for detail and mechanics, to make him maybe the ideal choice. He's almost certainly too expensive and probably wouldn't do it anyway, but we can dream.
The Hurt Locker director is good at action, has capably done sci-fi/futurism before (Strange Days), and has experience in horror, which Catching Fire almost turns into at various points. Bigelow's work is hit or miss, but with all of this solid source material and the momentum of the first film, we think she could really connect with this. Plus, as she showed with Jeremy Renner in The Hurt Locker, she's got a wise eye for casting, meaning maybe she could make up for some of Ross's sins (Donald Sutherland, Lenny Kravitz) by casting a truly excellent Finnick. If you haven't read the books we won't tell you who Finnick is, but just know that he has to be real good-lookin'. Bigelow could have fun with that!
We've only seen one feature film from Blomkamp so far, but boy was District 9 a stunner. Smart, exciting, and always thoughtful, it was science fiction meets action meets social critique in roughly the same vein as the Hunger Games series. Blomkamp's got another big secretive sci-fi movie called Elysium coming out next year, so he seems committed to the genre. We bet he'd make a whiz-bang Catching Fire, but also take the time to stop and consider all the violence and other craziness for what it is. Plus it would be fun to hear people say "Blomkamp" a lot for a while.
As his eagerness to direct the next Wolverine movie showed (he's since left the project), Aronofsky has an interest in big action stories; not everything has to be small and intimate and harrowing, like The Wrestler and Black Swan. Though those two films, and the horror-gonzo Requiem for a Dream, do show that Aronofsky has an eye for both real humanity and scary, eye-catching, highly technical filmmaking. There might be a fear that, like Fincher, Aronofsky would make the film too dark or brutal, but really these are stories of people killing each other for sport, so is it possible to be too dark?
Sure all her previous movies have been gauzy looks at sad wealthy people (the Lisbons of The Virgin Suicides were kinda well-off, right?) but look at how stunning they are to, well, look at! Wouldn't it be fun to see her get a little grittier and nastier? Catching Fire might be too big a book for her — it gets very ornate pretty quickly — maybe the first one was a better fit, but we'd certainly still enjoy watching the attempt. She did a period costume drama, how much more different can a future dystopian drama really be?
No, just kidding.