You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Persistence paid off for Gary Ross

'Hunger Games' helmer lobbied hard to land pic

Gary Ross knew “The Hunger Games” would make a mega splash at the box office. But like everyone else in the biz, even the pic’s helmer was pleasantly surprised by the film’s record-breaking $155 million domestic debut.

“I imagined that it could do very, very well, but certainly not this much,” Ross told Variety.

That’s because the helmer said the film’s production — shot mostly in the mountains of North Carolina — didn’t exactly feel like the start of a Hollywood franchise phenomenon.

“It was a very lean shoot,” Ross said. “There’s something kind of humbling about hiking in the woods to make a movie every day. We didn’t feel like we were part of a large Hollywood system.”

Ross credits his children for spurring him to read the books in author Suzanne Collins’ bestselling trilogy. He was immediately intrigued and began lobbying hard for the movie.

“Instantly, it was clear to me what the movie should be. It was never something that I had to grope for from the moment I shut the back cover. So I think the next morning I bought a plane ticket to England and flew to see (producer) Nina Jacobson, saying I wanted to do it,” he said.

The task of adapting the first book — Ross shares screen writing credits with Collins and Billy Ray — would seem to be a daunting mission, especially given its rabid supporters. But Ross said he felt confident in his vision for translating the story to the screen.

“Honestly, it was no more pressure than I put on myself normally,” Ross said. “I connected with the book so much that I felt if I followed my own vision it would work.

This film is probably the closest I’ve come to what was in my head,” he added.

The next installment in the franchise, “Catching Fire,” is set to bow Thanksgiving weekend 2013. For now, Ross is keeping his focus on enjoying this moment of B.O. triumph with a movie that is clearly resonating with auds worldwide.

“This is really a story about someone finding and struggling to preserve their humanity,” Ross said. “That was inherent in the book, and I don’t think I would have been interested had it not been. And that’s what the fanbase also loves about it. They don’t want empty calories.”

More Film

  • Anything

    Film Review: 'Anything'

    Gary Ross knew “The Hunger Games” would make a mega splash at the box office. But like everyone else in the biz, even the pic’s helmer was pleasantly surprised by the film’s record-breaking $155 million domestic debut. “I imagined that it could do very, very well, but certainly not this much,” Ross told Variety. That’s […]

  • Empty movie theater

    First U.S. Samsung LED Cinema Screen Debuts at Pacific Theaters Winnetka in Chatsworth

    Gary Ross knew “The Hunger Games” would make a mega splash at the box office. But like everyone else in the biz, even the pic’s helmer was pleasantly surprised by the film’s record-breaking $155 million domestic debut. “I imagined that it could do very, very well, but certainly not this much,” Ross told Variety. That’s […]

  • Stephen King The Tommyknockers

    Universal Wins Rights for Stephen King's 'Tommyknockers' Movie

    Gary Ross knew “The Hunger Games” would make a mega splash at the box office. But like everyone else in the biz, even the pic’s helmer was pleasantly surprised by the film’s record-breaking $155 million domestic debut. “I imagined that it could do very, very well, but certainly not this much,” Ross told Variety. That’s […]

  • WGA Writers Contract Talks

    Writers Guild Seeks to Reshape Talent Agency Business in Proposed Deal

    Gary Ross knew “The Hunger Games” would make a mega splash at the box office. But like everyone else in the biz, even the pic’s helmer was pleasantly surprised by the film’s record-breaking $155 million domestic debut. “I imagined that it could do very, very well, but certainly not this much,” Ross told Variety. That’s […]

  • UTA

    UTA Promotes Eight Coordinators to Agent

    Gary Ross knew “The Hunger Games” would make a mega splash at the box office. But like everyone else in the biz, even the pic’s helmer was pleasantly surprised by the film’s record-breaking $155 million domestic debut. “I imagined that it could do very, very well, but certainly not this much,” Ross told Variety. That’s […]

  • Ballers Season 2 HBO

    Film News Roundup: California Production Tax Credit Extension Moving Forward

    Gary Ross knew “The Hunger Games” would make a mega splash at the box office. But like everyone else in the biz, even the pic’s helmer was pleasantly surprised by the film’s record-breaking $155 million domestic debut. “I imagined that it could do very, very well, but certainly not this much,” Ross told Variety. That’s […]

  • Brandon Gregory

    Brandon Gregory Joins Third Coast Content

    Gary Ross knew “The Hunger Games” would make a mega splash at the box office. But like everyone else in the biz, even the pic’s helmer was pleasantly surprised by the film’s record-breaking $155 million domestic debut. “I imagined that it could do very, very well, but certainly not this much,” Ross told Variety. That’s […]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content