LOS ANGELES - Gary Ross says he won't direct "Catching Fire," the second installment in Lionsgate's blockbuster "The Hunger Games" franchise.
In a statement Tuesday, Ross says "after difficult but sincere consideration," he decided not to direct the film. He blames limited time to write and prep the film because of the fixed, tight production schedule.
Ross says making "The Hunger Games" was the happiest experience of his professional life. He also denies reports that negotiations with Lionsgate had been problematic.
Lionsgate officials say in response that they're "very sorry" Ross has chosen not to direct "Catching Fire" but they look forward to working with him on future projects.
"Catching Fire" is the second installment in the franchise based on Suzanne Collins' book series. It's scheduled for release in November 2013.
Lionsgate is a division of Lions Gate Entertainment Corp.