Credit: Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images

Despite rave reviews, record ticket sales, and an intense cult following, it seems that The Hunger Games director Gary Ross won’t be back to helm the second installment Catching Fire.

"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 said in a statement.

The news came as a surprise to some of the film’s actors.

"It's an honor working with such a talented director,” Alexander Ludwig, who played Cato, told E! News. “He is an unbelievable guy and an actor's director, which is amazing...Nobody could really do what Gary did. I honestly believe that 100 percent."

And though some characters seemed tough in the arena, this loss to the series has brought out the softies in the bunch.

"I'm heartbroken,” said Dayo Okeniyi who played Thresh. “He was the perfect person for me for the first movie, because he has this great ability to do the indie thing with the blockbuster thing and I think everybody wants that combination."

And though neither Alexander nor Dayo will be back for the second film (spoiler alert!), there’s little news on how the returning cast members are taking Gary’s exit.

Before the news was officially announced, actor Josh Hutcherson, who plays Peeta Mellark, said, “I think Gary’s the man. Gary is in my mind is the only one that could ever direct the second one. That’s what I’m sticking to.”

So who should be in the director's chair for Catching Fire now that Ross is out of the running? We’re not sure what Josh’s stance is post-announcement, but he did joke that Joseph Kahn, who directed Josh’s upcoming horror film Detention, would be a good match.

Dayo also suggested David Fincher (The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo) or Darren Aronofsky (Black Swan) for Catching Fire.

Who should volunteer as tribute director? Comment below!

Sources: E News, The Hollywood Reporter, The Chicago Tribune

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