Director Gary Ross Exits THE HUNGER GAMES Sequel CATCHING FIRE

Ross has now revealed that he will not return to direct the film adaptation of the second book in Suzanne Collins’ runaway bestselling Hunger Games trilogy, which is set to release on November 22, 2013.

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THE HUNGER GAMES will be directed by Gary Ross, and produced by Nina Jacobson’s Color Force in tandem with producer Jon Kilik. Collins’ best-selling novel, which has over 3 million copies in print in the United States alone, is the first in a trilogy of science fiction/action novels which have developed a global following.

THE HUNGER GAMES chronicles a dystopic Capitol which requires its twelve subjugated districts to pay tribute in the form of a teenage boy and girl, forced to participate in the annual “Hunger Games,” a fight-to-the-death live televised event. Katniss Everdeen’s little sister is chosen in the lottery to participate and Katniss volunteers to take her place. Although persevering through hardship is commonplace for Katniss, she must start making choices that weigh survival against humanity and life against love in order to win the games and return home.

The Hunger Games was released internationally on March 23, 2012, and has so far grossed over $300 million at the box office. Although director Gary Ross has already spent time writing the script for the forthcoming sequel with series author Suzanne Collins, it's now been revealed that he is no longer attached to the project.

"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," said Ross in a recent statement. "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."

The Hunger Games stars Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Elizabeth Banks, Stanley Tucci, Wes Bentley, Paula Malcolmson, Woody Harrelson, Lenny Kravitz, Toby Jones, Amandla Stenberg, Dayo Okeniyi, Leven Rambin, Jack Quaid, Ian Nelson, Kalia Prescott, Ethan Jamieson, Tara Macke, Chris Mark, Jackie Emerson, Ashton Moio, Kara Petersen, Jeremy Marinas, Dakota Hood, Sam Ly, Leigha Hancock, Imanol Vepez-Frias, Annie Thurman, Samuel Tan, Mackenzie Lintz, Alexander Ludwig, Isabelle Fuhrman, Latarsha Rose, and Brooke Bundy. It is now playing in conventional and IMAX theaters.