Francis Lawrence Tapped to Direct Hunger Games Sequel Catching Fire

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Francis Lawrence directing on location for the new TV pilot "Gotham" on March 22, 2012 in New York City. 

The search for Hunger Games director Gary Ross' replacement may be over.

The Hollywood Reporter and Variety report that the 55-year-old director, who announced his departure April 11, will hand over the reigns to Francis Lawrence, 42.

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A spokeswoman for Lionsgate confirmed that Francis was given an offer Thursday, but the studio has yet to close the deal. Lionsgate is hoping to shoot Catching Fire starting later this summer for a November 22, 2013 release date.

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Francis — who is not related to leading lady Jennifer Lawrence, 21 — broke into the business as a music video director, working with big name acts like Britney Spears ("I'm a Slave 4 U"), Shakira ("Whenever, Wherever"), Aerosmith ("Jaded") and Janet Jackson ("Someone to Call My Lover").

As a film director, Francis' credits include 2011's Water for Elephants (starring Reese Witherspoon and Robert Pattinson), 2007's I Am Legend (starring Will Smith) and 2005's Constantine (starring Keanu Reeves, Rachel Weisz and Shia LaBeouf).

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Since its March 23 debut, The Hunger Games has generated more than $340 million in domestic ticket sales.

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