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'Catching Fire': It's Official! Francis Lawrence Will Direct

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May 03, 2012 | 8:10am EDT

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ALTAfter a long search and many rumors, the producers of the highly successful Hunger Games franchise have officially settled on director Francis Lawrence to direct the second installment, Catching Fire.

Earlier this year, original Hunger Games helmer Gary Ross departed the project due to time constraints, leaving the gap wide open for a number of potential directors. After hints that Lawrence may step in, the deal has finally been sealed. In a statement released by Lionsgate (the studio behind the series), Lawrence was praised by producer Nina Jacobson: "From my first conversation with Francis, I knew he would make a great partner for both me and Suzanne [Collins, author].   His passion for Catching Fire and inspired ideas for a faithful adaptation make him the perfect director for this movie.  I know this will be a wonderful collaboration and I cannot wait to get started."

Lawrence had his own enthusiastic words. "It is truly an honor and a privilege to bring Catching Fire, the second chapter of Suzanne’s beloved trilogy, to the big screen. I fell in love with the characters, the themes and the world she created and this chapter opens all of these elements up in such a thrilling, emotional and surprising way. I can’t wait to dive right into it and bring this chapter to life along with the truly superb cast and filmmakers involved."

According to the press release, there are eight more reasons to be excited: the entire cast is back, including Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, and Liam Hemsworth, with Lenny Kravitz, Elizabeth Banks, Stanley Tucci, Donald Sutherland, and Woody Harrelson also signed on for their respective roles. Catching Fire is still set for its original release date, November 22, 2013, and Lawrence appears more than capable of pulling it off in time. So now that the production team is all locked, which actors should step in to the sequel's new roles. You tell us!

Find Matt Patches directly on Twitter @misterpatches and remember to follow @Hollywood_com!

More:

'Catching Fire': Why Director Francis Lawrence Is the Man for the Job

'Catching Fire' Director Contenders: Grade A Choices

'Hunger Games' Director Gary Ross Won't Direct 'Catching Fire'

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