Francis Lawrence, who directed Robert Pattinson in "Water For Elephants" as well as music videos for the likes of Britney Spears, Aerosmith and Jennifer Lopez, is set to helm the "Hunger Games" sequel, "Catching Fire," taking over for Gary Ross, a report says.
"The Hunger Games," a sci-fi film starring Jennifer Lawrence as a teenage girl forced to participated in a televised fight to the death, has made more than $536 million worldwide since it was released on March 23. It is based on a book series by Suzanne Collins that is widely popular with young audiences. Ross announced earlier this month he would not direct the sequel, citing time constraints.
The website Deadline reported that Lionsgate, the film franchise's studio, tapped Francis Lawrence to direct "Catching Fire." Reps for him and the company had no immediate comment about the matter.
The director, who was born in Austria and was raised in California, previously helmed the 2011 romantic drama "Water For Elephants," which stars Reese Witherspoon and Robert Pattinson, who plays Edward Cullen in the "Twilight" films, another movie franchise popular with young audiences.
Francis Lawrence has directed scores of music videos by popular artist. Among them are Britney Spears' "I'm a Slave 4 U," Lady Gaga's "Bad Romance," the Black Eyed Peas' "Pump It," Beyonce's "Run the World (Girls)," Justin Timberlake's "Cry Me a River," Jennifer Lopez's "Jenny from the Block" and Aerosmith's "I Don't Want to Miss a Thing."
Francis Lawrence also helmed the 2007 sci-fi film "I Am Legend," which stars Will Smith as a human who survives a plague and must battle zombies, and the 2005 movie "Constantine" with Keanu Reeves. He also directed the pilot episode of the FOX mystery drama series "Touch," which stars Kiefer Sutherland, and serves as an executive producer.
"Catching Fire" is set for release on Nov. 22, 2013 and sees Jennifer Lawrence's character, Katniss Everdeen, forced to make difficult decisions and resume her role as a fighter after the end of The Hunger Games, as unrest and violence increases in her world.