Gary Ross has revealed he will not return for the Hunger Games sequel.
The Seabiscuit director, who made the first film starring Jennifer Lawrence and Josh Hutcherson, has decided not to sign up for the second instalment Catching Fire, reported Deadline.
"Despite recent speculation in the media and after difficult but sincere consideration, I have decided not to direct Catching Fire," said the filmmaker in a statement.
"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."
Gary - who also wrote the films Big and Lassie - denied there was any ill-will between him and Lionsgate film studio.
"I loved making The Hunger Games - it was the happiest experience of my professional life.... Contrary to what has been reported, negotiations with Lionsgate have not been problematic. They have also been very understanding of me through this difficult decision," he added.
Lionsgate said: "We're very sorry that Gary Ross has chosen not to direct Catching Fire. We were really looking forward to making the movie with him."
The Hunger Games, which also stars Liam Hemsworth, Lenny Kravitz, Elizabeth Banks and Woody Harrelson, has broken box office records since its release last month, and has become the largest opening film of 2012 so far.
Catching Fire is scheduled for release in November 2013, followed by the final film, Mockingjay.