LOS ANGELES Francis Lawrence has signed on to direct the final two installments of the hit movie "The Hunger Games," movie studio Lionsgate said on Thursday.
The announcement follows months of rumors that Lionsgate might go with a different director to helm the "The Hunger Games: Mockingjay," - the final part of the trilogy which will be split into two separate films.
The "I am Legend" director is currently filming the second film in the franchise, "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire," slated to hit theaters in November 2013. "Mockingjay - Part 1" is scheduled for a November 2014 release with Part 2 coming a year later.
Gary Ross directed the first film in the blockbuster, which was released in March and has since grossed some $670 million worldwide.
Stars Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth have signed on for the final two films, the studio said in a statement.
The films are adapted from the best-selling young-adult novels from author Suzanne Collins. The trilogy, set in a dystopian future, tells the story of a life-or-death game through the eyes of heroine Katniss Everdeen (Lawrence).
The final installments follow Everdeen leading her native Panem in a rebellion against the corrupt Capitol in a post-apocalyptic North America.
Lawrence is known for his action and science-fiction thrillers including "I am Legend", "Constantine" and the NBC miniseries "Kings".
(Reporting By Eric Kelsey, editing by Jill Serjeant and David Gregorio)