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Gary Ross "Unofficially" Out of Hunger Games Sequel—So What's Next for the Franchise?!

Jennifer Lawrence, Gary Ross Kevin Winter/Getty Images

It's safe to say we were shocked to hear reports that Hunger Games director Gary Ross has dropped out of the franchise, leaving the second film (which is set to shoot this fall) without anyone in charge.

Just this morning we were saying Gary was far too invested in the story to let tough negotiations get in the way of his helming the sequel. Not to mention the fact that you'd think Lionsgate would be bending over backwards to keep Ross onboard, what with the millions he earned them at the box office.

But how wrong we were. So what's next for the franchise?!

READ: Hunger Games Director Says Romance "Wouldn't Have Worked" in Flick!

"Nothing has been officially finalized," a source close to the production tells us. "But Gary is leaving, unofficially."

Our source was light on details but said that it had less to do with money issues—which was rumored to be the point of contention between the studio and director—and has more to do with the "politics" behind the franchise.

Let's take a moment to grieve the loss of Gary, shall we? He did us proud with the first film.

OK, now that that's over, it's time to dry your eyes and start thinking ahead to the sequel—someone ought to, after all, because—even though the first film just hit theaters—Thanksgiving 2013 (Fire's release date, as of now) is right around the corner.

READ: Too Little Liam Hemsworth? Hunger Games Writers "Tried Out Some Ideas" to Add More Gale!

While some names have already been tossed around to replace Gary (our vote goes to Alfonso Cuarón), we decided to take a look at the forefathers of franchises—Harry Potter and Twilight, duh—to see how a new director could affect the next movie.

It could be good:

Chris Columbus helmed the first two Harry Potter installments before handing over the reins to Cuarón for the third film, Prisoner of Azkaban. And the switchover was seamless…if not an improvement to the witchy flicks!

The Hollywood Reporter praised Prisoner for being "deeper, darker…and more emotionally satisfying" than even the first two films. Hey, considering the source material, that could be the perfect route for a Hunger Games follow-up.

READ: The Hunger Games Cast Talks Fan Backlash and Josh Hutcherson's Blond Hair: "I Was Definitely More Dumb!"

Or it could be bad. Very, very bad:

After Catherine Hardwicke exited the Twilight Saga series following the first movie, Chris Weitz took over for New Moon. And the results were, well, dreadful—just take a peek at the film's 28 percent fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes (down 20 percent from the original).

Trusty reviewers Roger Ebert and Richard Roeper sounded off too, with Ebert awarding the film one out of four stars (which is generous, in our opinion) and Roeper calling it "plodding" and "achingly slow." Yikes.

Guess we'll have to hope for the odds to be ever in the favor of The Hunger Games. Because our biggest fear at the moment is for Finnick Odair—Gary Ross had such an eye for casting the first film (Jennifer Lawrence!) and we want someone who knows what they're doing to help pick the hunky tribute.

Won't anyone think of poor Finnick?!

PHOTOS: The Hunger Games Premiere

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