Billy Ray did a draft of The Hunger Games for Lionsgate, and it was his pass that pretty much got the project off the ground. I wouldn't think that's discouraging – Ray's scripts for Shattered Glass and Breach in particular are really quite good indeed.
But when that script leaked recently, some fans were most dismayed. It seemed that Ray had made some significant changes, not least in the provision of back-up for Katniss, sending the character of Gale into the fray to try and assist her. The resulting fan-racket prompted Lionsgate to issue an official statement on the matter, via Twitter:
The current draft of The Hunger Games script was not written by Billy Ray. It is a collaboration between Gary Ross and Suzanne Collins [author of the original novel].
And the Hunger Games cult breathed a sigh of relief as one. Poor Mr. Ray.
Ross is, himself, a superb screenwriter. His script for Big, written with Anne Spielberg, is one of my favourites, and the two films he both wrote and directed, Pleasantville and Seabiscuit show an amazing facility with story and character. It's the Gary Ross factor that has me interested in The Hunger Games, and it's the standard of his films I'll be comparing it to, not to Suzanne Collins novel…
…which I suppose I should read, for context if nothing else.