Francis Lawrence Offered THE HUNGER GAME Sequel CATCHING FIRE

Studio finds a director for follow-up.

‘Water for Elephants’ helmer Francis Lawrence has emerged as Lionsgate’s top choice to take the director’s chair for ‘Catching Fire,’ the follow-up to the Gary Ross-directed ‘The Hunger Games.’

According to Heat Vision, it was between Lawrence and ‘Moneyball’ director Bennett Miller, but with Miller busy prepping his true-life drama ‘Foxcatcher,’ the job fell to Lawrence, who has an open schedule.

Other directors on the shortlist were Tomas Alfredson (‘Tinker Tailer Soldier Spy,’ ‘‘Let the Right One In’), Alejandro González Iñárritu (‘Babel’), Cary Fukunaga (‘Jane Eyre’) and Duncan Jones (‘Source Code,’ ‘Moon’).

Lawrence is expected to receive an official offer later today. His previous credits include ‘I Am Legend’ and ‘Constantine.’

‘Catching Fire’ is scheduled to arrive in cinemas November 2013.