BREAKING: Lionsgate has tapped Francis Lawrence to direct Catching Fire, replacing Gary Ross as director of the second installment of The Hunger Games franchise. Deadline told you last night it came down to Lawrence and Moneyball helmer Bennett Miller, after Juan Antonio Bayona couldn’t do it. Miller was very interested, but wanted Lionsgate to push back so that he could make the Steve Carell-starrer Foxcatcher. Lionsgate wants to start production in late August, and wouldn’t do it (that’s the reason they lost Ross, who didn’t see a way to prep the picture in time). So that left Lawrence, and rumors have been flying all day he’d get the gig. Lawrence last helmed Water For Elephants, and before that I Am Legend and Constantine and before that videos for the likes of Britney Spears, Jennifer Lopez and Green Day. Lawrence can jump right into the project and get Jennifer Lawrence through the second installment before Fox enforces an option for her to make the second installment of X-Men: First Class. Some feel that Fox might not even make that early 2013 start date, but there is testiness between the studios after Lawrence wasn’t made available to do promotion on X-Men: First Class because she was on Hunger Games duty. CAA and 3 Arts rep Lawrence. (Photo of Lawrence: Getty Images)
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