1. Steven Soderbergh
Soderbergh is the obvious best choice because his fingerprints are all over the franchise already. Brought in as a Second Unit Director on the first film, he commandeered one of the finer scenes in the picture: the rebellion sequence in District 11. It was a hailed by critics and fans as a flourishing addition, and his talent as a director was on full display.
Soderbergh’s credentials are also impressive. Not only is he close with Ross, but his accomplishments are considerably superior. Director of Erin Brockovich, Traffic, Ocean’s Eleven, and Contagion, he clearly has the chops. The only concerns about him are his rumored casting preferences (Alex Pettyfer for Finnick? No thanks!) The other problem is – and this will be a common theme – he is allegedly too busy to step in on such short notice.
2. Kathryn Bigelow
The former wife of James Cameron is a hot commodity these days after winning the Oscar for Directing with Iraq-war sensation The Hurt Locker. As the first and only woman to snag the award, it puts her in extremely elite company, and what better way to further the message of female empowerment than to put Katniss Everdeen in her hands? With The Hurt Locker, Bigelow demonstrated her ability to tackle violence and war, which she could display in spades during Catching Fire sequences.
It’s unclear whether she would be interested, but Lionsgate should certainly extend some overtures. One big problem: She’s currently working on Zero Dark Thirty, a film about the Navy Seals who tracked down Osama bin Laden. Timing could be impossible.
3. Ang Lee
Known for lauded films like Brokeback Mountain and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, perhaps my favorite rendition of his was actually Sense and Sensibility, where he so deftly tackled Jane Austen’s nuanced text. That ability to adapt from novel to screen could serve him extremely well here with Catching Fire. Throughout his career, Lee has proven his versatility – the kind of versatility needed for the District 12 scenes, coupled with the violence in the Arena. Imagine the mountains of Brokeback juxtaposed with the combat of Tiger. It does seem like a great fit.
However, critics might question his tendency for slow pacing. After all, his target market is made up of mostly young adults, who may not have the patience for his scenic deliberation and andante tempo. To be successful, he would have to adopt a more electric style. I think he can do it.
4. Brad Bird
I’ve been throwing Bird’s name out anywhere and everywhere, because so far his track record has been simply phenomenal. The architect behind two Pixar gems (the exhilarating The Incredibles and the culturally resplendent Ratatouille), Bird also showed his mastery over the live action technique with Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, a herculean effort that resurrected what appeared to be a dormant franchise. So far, he has earned platitudes from every sector, for both a steady hand in the director’s chair and an intelligent appreciation for artistry.
My concerns are twofold: 1) The lack of experience, but more importantly, 2) Would he respect Collins’ source material enough? The fact that there’s a question mark on the latter makes me hesitant to throw my whole heart behind him. All of his previous efforts have been self-constructed – would he do right by Collins and the fan base? I think he would, but I don’t have proof, and in these harrowing times, reassurance is needed.
5. Duncan Jones
Now here’s a candidate I could realistically see taking over. Jones is a hot name in fan circles and for good reason: his first two flicks have been categorical successes (Moon and Source Code). In both cases, he managed to feature science fiction topics and make them stimulating (in the case of Moon, with basically one character). Source Code was hardly on the silver screen radar, but it proved to be a frenetic, down-to-the-wire picture – just the kind of suspense-building Catching Fire could use.
The cons? He’s still relatively unproven, and to pick him might be a serious gamble. Then again, it’s a gamble that could pay off with huge dividends, and he might just appreciate the opportunity more than the others above. His availability is also a major plus, but the question of the hour: Is he as much of a Hunger Games fan as Ross, and could he work directly with Collins?
There are some really surprising choices after this, including the likes of Joe Wright, Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, and Cary Fukunaga, so keep reading HERE!