Oscar winner Michael Arndt in talks to re-write ‘Catching Fire’

Now that Francis Lawrence has officially signed on to direct “Catching Fire, ” the script for the highly-anticipated “Hunger Games” sequel is going to get a re-write.

Oscar winner Michael Arndt (“Little Miss Sunshine”) is in talks with Lionsgate to re-write the screenplay, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Simon Beaufoy (“Slumdog Millionaire”) wrote the initial draft. “Catching Fire” is based on the second novel in the book trilogy by Suzanne Collins.  

The first film was written by director Gary Ross, Collins and Billy Ray (“Shattered Glass”). 

Arndt was also nominated for an Oscar for writing the smash Pixar sequel “Toy Story 3.” He’s also become the screenwriter of choice for Tom Cruise, as he did some work on the upcoming musical “Rock of Ages” and Cruise’s futuristic SF film “Oblivion.”

“Catching Fire” is being put on the fast track, with the studio planning to start production late this summer. Returning star Jennifer Lawrence is contractually obligated to be on set for Fox’s “X-Men: First Class” sequel early in 2013, creating somewhat of a time crunch for “Fire.” Amid the behind-the-scenes drama, Ross exited the film, and was replaced by Lawrence (“I Am Legend”). 

So far, “The Hunger Games” has grossed nearly $400 million domestically and is likely to be among the summer’s biggest hits, alongside “The Avengers” and the upcoming “Dark Knight Rises.”