Gary Ross won't direct 'Hunger Games' sequel 'Catching Fire'
Apparently, Gary Ross doesn't have "Hunger Games" fever like the rest of America.
The director of the hugely successful page-to-screen adaptation of Suzanne Collins' best-selling novel will not direct the film version of the second installment, "Catching Fire," he announced Wednesday.
"As a writer and a director, I simply don't have the time I need to write and prep the movie I would have wanted to make because of the fixed and tight production schedule," Ross said in a statement.
The rumor mill had been churning recently with chatter that the director and Lionsgate were fighting over salary, a claim Ross denied, saying: "Contrary to what has been reported, negotiations with Lionsgate have not been problematic."
As for the studio, Lionsgate Wednesday released the following statement in response to Ross' exit: "We were really looking forward to making the movie with him. He did an incredible job on the first film and we are grateful for his work."
"Hunger Games" - set in a futuristic society in which kids are forced to fight to the death on live television - has been a massive hit at the box office, raking in a whopping $302 million since opening March 23.
The movie's three young stars - Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth - have all signed for "Catching Fire" as well as the third flick in the triology, "Mockingjay," according to Lionsgate.
Follow Style/Entertainment Editor Julie Gordon on Twitter: @jbgordon