Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Lionsgate is getting serious about the second installment of The Hunger Games. The mini-major is courting Oscar-winning Slumdog Millionaire scribe Simon Beaufoy to write Catching Fire, the second installment of the three book series that tracks the life and death adventures of Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence). I’m told that Gary Ross, who directed The Hunger Games, is coming back for the sequel. He originally intended to write the outline for the second film and script it with author Suzanne Collins (they teamed to do a lot of writing on the first film), but the post production schedule on The Hunger Games has made that difficult. The film opens March 23. There is no start date on the sequel, but it is high priority.  Ross and producers Nina Jacobson and Jon Kilik then focused on Beaufoy. Negotiations haven’t begun yet, but Lionsgate is pushing hard for Beaufoy. Aside from Slumdog Millionaire, Beaufoy also scripted 127 Hours, The Full Monty and most recently adapted Salmon Fishing in the Yemen. There is extra heat on the series after Lionsgate released the well received first trailer. Here is that trailer again: