Yesterday, we heard news that Michael Arndt is in talks to re-write initial drafts of the Catching Fire screenplay written by Simon Beaufoy who won an Oscar for writing Slumdog Millionaire (who, for the record, we like). Nothing is official yet, but let’s pretend it is.
Weirdly enough, the idea of Lionsgate tapping another Oscar-winning screenwriter to do rewrites didn’t really occur to any of us. But it should have! Screenplays typically go through several drafts, and there’s a major time-crunch to get everything ready for Catching Fire to start filming in the late summer/early fall.
Also Francis Lawrence, unlike Gary Ross, isn’t a screenwriter, so he wouldn’t be the one to do rewrites the way Gary did with Suzanne Collins on Billy Ray’s initial draft of the adaptation of The Hunger Games. That’s not to say that had Gary Ross stayed on as director they wouldn’t have gotten another screenwriter – we don’t know that for sure. But with a movie as big as Catching Fire is sure to be, it’s understandable why Lionsgate wouldn’t want just one screenwriter tackling this project.
Michael Arndt won an Oscar for writing Little Miss Sunshine, and he also penned the screenplay for Toy Story 3. That’s… about it, as far as writing experience is concerned (he was Matthew Broderick’s assistant, though – that’s pretty cool). What this says to us is that Arndt might have been tapped for his experience writing for his young voice and for the sense of humor in his writing. There’s a bit more wisecracking in Catching Fire than in The Hunger Games, what with the additions of Johanna and Finnick bringing in some more dark humor, which was a huge part of the appeal of Little Miss Sunshine.
While we as a fandom are pretty wary of new names being brought on to work on the movies, this addition might help. We’re already worried there won’t be enough time to do get Catching Fire ready, so anyone who can come in and help would be great. And don’t forget, Suzanne Collins is still involved. She’s read Simon Beaufoy’s initial drafts and has no doubt given feedback. Michael Arndt, if he does officially sign on to do rewrites, will of course be under Suzanne’s guidance as well, so don’t fret!
Off to dig up my copy of Little Miss Sunshine