'Hunger Games' Director Won't Return for Round Two

ABC News
'The Hunger Games: Catching Fire' Trailer: See It Here
'The Hunger Games: Catching Fire' Trailer: See It Here (ABC News)

He may have called the shots on the blockbuster movie "The Hunger Games," but director Gary Ross says he's passing on the chance to film the movie's already-in-the-works sequel.

Ross' decision comes after days of speculation about his future with the second film, "Catching Fire" - and comes not long after he told news outlets he was definitely "attached to direct" the sequel and was "intending to do it."

In a statement from the filmmaker made public by studio Lionsgate, Ross said, "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 also thanked the movie's stars, including Jennifer Lawrence, and denied his stepping down was the result of rumored-to-be nasty negotiations with Lionsgate, saying of the studio, "They have also been very understanding of me through this difficult decision."

For its part, Lionsgate reps insisted in a statement that they're "very sorry" Ross is backing out.