On Friday, word came that Gary Ross had walked away from negotiations for his sequel contract on The Hunger Games‘s follow up Catching Fire. Now word comes that Ross isn’t out and that he’s back in talks – talks that start today. What are we to make of this public in and out, was it a miscommunication or what?

There’s a couple ways this happened. Either Ross’s side leaked it, or Lionsgate did. In this case, it would have to be Ross, right? So it would be Ross and Company testing the waters to see what the public reaction would be if he did leave, but also to see if he could get a better deal for spending the next three or more years of his life invested in this project. If it was Lionsgate how leaked it, it was to put pressure on Ross to sign up now, as they have a fall start time on the sequel.

Ultimately, this is just about money, and if Ross is going back in then he’s definitely interested in finishing out the series. At this point it’s just an issue of how much the studio is willing to pay him for his services. And on that level this story is much like many similar ones where the information might change daily, but what’s being told to entertainment journalists has as much to do with the truth as creating a stronger bargaining position for either the studio or the talent. You could argue it’s gaming the system, but no one gets hurt so much as lied to. This has become a tool in the arsenal of high profile deals like this, and for good reason too – Michael Bay has made over a hundred million dollars directing Transformers movies. It’s possible – if not likely – that the next Hunger Games movie will do over a billion worldwide. There’s a lot of money at stake here.

UPDATE:  It appears that an online fan movement is currently growing and calling for Ross to stay on the series (via Crushable): Gary Ross is Boss.

Who would you like to see direct Catching Fire?