Francis Lawrence has been officially invited to join the "Hunger Games" family.
After a fast and furious search, Lionsgate has chosen the "Water For Elephants" director as the man to call the shots on "Catching Fire," according to Heat Vision.
The studio has been searching for a director for the second installment in "The Hunger Games" series ever since Gary Ross dropped out of the running, citing the film's extremely rushed pre-production schedule as the main reason for his departure. Candidates for the "Catching Fire" directing gig have included Tomas Alfredson ("Let the Right One In," "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy"), Alejandro Gonzalez Innaritu ("Babel"), Cary Fukunaga ("Jane Eyre"), David Cronenberg ("Cosmopolis," "A Dangerous Method"), Bennett Miller ("Moneyball") and Duncan Jones ("Moon," "Source Code").
Francis Lawrence is a veteran music video director, having worked with such artists as Britney Spears, Will Smith, Green Day, Jennifer Lopez, Sarah McLachlan and Aerosmith. He made his feature film debut with "Constantine," the big-screen adaptation of the "Hellblazer" comic book series starring Keanu Reeves, and went on to work with Will Smith again in "I Am Legend." He most recently directed the carny romance "Water For Elephants," starring Robert Pattinson and Renee Zellweger.
Lawrence (no relation to Jennifer Lawrence, by the way) will do well by "Catching Fire." He's able to handle large-scale action (and in a sci-fi context, at that) and does well with the drama stuff, too (we're especially fond of the scene in "I Am Legend" where Will Smith almost has a nervous breakdown as he recites long-memorized dialogue along with the television). And based on last year's "Water For Elephants," he isn't one to shy away from the romance and good old-fashioned melodrama, either, which are essential elements to the second "Hunger Games" book.
Lionsgate is facing a ticking-clock scenario with "Catching Fire," which needs to wrap production by late December (!) in order for Jennifer Lawrence to fulfill her commitment to the "X-Men: First Class" sequel. Let the "Games" begin once again — and soon!