Cronenberg, Cuaron on Lionsgate’s ‘Catching Fire’ director shortlist

Though none of them made our staff-picked list of suggestions for who might be a good choice to helm “The Hunger Games” sequel “Catching Fire”, directors David Cronenberg, Alfonso Cuaron and Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu are all allegedly on Lionsgate’s own shortlist for the gig.

At least that’s according to The LA Times’ 24 Frames blog, which is reporting that “a source with knowledge of the list who isn’t permitted to speak on the record” has revealed to them that the aforementioned trio of filmmakers are among eight different directors currently being eyed by the studio for the high-profile job, which opened up after Gary Ross officially made his exit earlier this week.

So who are the other five? No names are forthcoming at this point, but we can’t help but wonder if any of our own picks, including Frank Darabont (the former “Walking Dead” showrunner and director of films including “The Shawshank Redemption” and “The Mist”), Gus Van Sant (“Good Will Hunting”), Patty Jenkins (“The Killing”, “Monster”) and Danny Boyle (“Slumdog Millionaire”, “28 Days Later”) are on the studio’s official list…

In any case, according to the unnamed source alluded to by 24 Frames, “Hunger Games” novelist Suzanne Collins is being quite picky about who gets the gig, preferring high-quality, artistically-inclined directors over more commercially-oriented filmmakers, and the caliber of names revealed thus far certainly point to that alleged fact.

Of course, there’s no guarantee that any of the studio’s choices will be amenable to the tight production schedule that’s been mandated for the sequel (Lionsgate needs to go into production by August so that star Jennifer Lawrence will be free to begin filming Fox’s “X-Men: First Class” follow-up in January), and indeed, it’s a requirement that directly led to Ross’ decision to abandon the project.

Cuaron, of course, has experience with taking the reigns of a blockbuster franchise sequel, having directed the acclaimed 2004 “Harry Potter” entry “Prisoner of Azkaban” before moving on to 2006’s “Children of Men” and, belatedly, the upcoming George Clooney/Sandra Bullock sci-fi “Gravity”. Cronenberg and Inarritu, meanwhile, haven’t yet taken the helm of a high-profile studio effort like “Catching Fire” (though they’ve almost certainly been offered them in the past), and there’s no reason to think they’d be open to the idea now.

Still, the studio’s shortlist is nevertheless an intriguing one from what we know of it so far, and moreover it’s good to hear that they’re looking at artistically-significant filmmakers and not just directors-for-hire who would no doubt churn out an uninspired, middle-of-the-road follow-up before happily moving on to the next hack job.

Anyway, what are your thoughts on the studio’s choices? Any other directors you think might be right for the job? Sound off in the comments!