The Hunger Games director is playing hardball

The Hunger Games has already earned $368 million dollars worldwide, and was the sixth-fastest movie to surpass $250 million domestically, so I guess director Gary Ross (previously of Pleasantville and Seabiscuit) feels like he has some negotiating power. According to reports, he’s playing hardball, and has yet to sign on for the sequel. Although it could just be that it’s hard to sign a contract when your hand is shaking everywhere and your face is half an inch from the paper. (Get it? Because The Hunger Games was a shaky, blurry mess?).

Unlike stars Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth, Ross is not signed for a sequel. And negotiations for him to do the first movie were “a terrible experience,” says a source with knowledge of the discussions, because Ross is a seasoned filmmaker (Pleasantville, Seabiscuit) and Lionsgate isn’t accustomed to paying seasoned-filmmaker fees. He ended up taking a relatively low $3 million to write (with Billy Ray and novelist Suzanne Collins) and direct. But he will collect a very remunerative 5 percent of backend.
Sources say Ross, 55, would like a significant raise for a second Hunger Games, but Lionsgate didn’t kick off negotiations with him until about three weeks before the first film’s March 23 opening. By then, with tracking suggesting a huge opening weekend, Ross and his CAA reps were in no hurry to bargain.
Lionsgate has a script from Simon Beaufoy (Slumdog Millionaire) that Ross has yet to revise. The studio is in a rush to start the next film in the fall, though Fox might upset Lionsgate’s plan by exercising its option on Lawrence to start another X-Men movie first. (Fox’s option would trump Lionsgate’s hold on Lawrence, say sources.) Adding urgency: Lionsgate already has booked a November 2013 release for Hunger Games: Catching Fire. [THR]

Oh no, what will they ever do without a guy to aim the camera at leaves while the pretty future people make insidery book references! A talent like should be cherished and coddled, not put out to pasture! Well, you know what happens now. They aim the spotlight over Hollywood, projecting a silhouetted shrimp cocktail against the night sky. Because whenever a good director is too expensive, Brett Ratner is there, playing with his blackberry and scratching his balls.

[Factual Note: As pointed out by Laremy on the last Frotcast, one of the second unit directors on The Hunger Games was Steven Soderbergh. Could it be that it was actually Soderbergh who was responsible for the shaky cam? None of Soderbergh’s movies seemed particularly shaky to me, but maybe he just figured that since he wouldn’t be associated with the final product anyway, instead of taking the time to choreograph he could just shake the camera around for a few minutes and everyone could break for lunch.]