Josh Trank has exited the Star Wars universe.
Trank was set to direct the second spinoff in the new series of films. In a statement posted on the official Star Wars site, Trank wrote:
“After a year of having the incredible honor of developing with the wonderful and talented people at Lucasfilm, I’m making a personal decision to move forward on a different path. I’ve put a tremendous amount of thought into this, and I know deep down in my heart that I want to pursue some original creative opportunities. That said, the Star Wars universe has always been one of my biggest influences, and I couldn’t be more excited to witness its future alongside my millions of fellow Star Wars fans. I want to thank my friends Kathleen Kennedy, Kiri Hart, Simon Kinberg, and everyone at Lucasfilm and Disney for the amazing opportunity to have been a part of this. May the Force be with you all.”
Trank, 30, came to prominence with his 2012 found-footage superhero movie Chronicle and is currently finishing the Fantastic Four reboot for Fox. That film has an August release date.
Trank raised eyebrows when he didn't show up for a planned presentation at Disney's Star Wars Celebration in April. At the time, Disney and Trank said he was not feeling well, with Trank tweeting that he had "worst flu of my life." But sources say Trank was asked by Disney executives not to attend the event.
Rumors have persisted that Fox is unhappy with Trank's performance on Fantastic Four and that Kinberg, who is producing both that film and the second Star Wars spinoff, was getting cold feet about working with Trank again.
In a statement, Lucasfilm vp development Hart said, “It was a privilege to collaborate with Josh. We are grateful for the energy and love of Star Wars that he brought to the process, and we wish him all the best.”
The search for a new director is on. Star Wars: The Force Awakens is set for release Dec. 18. The first standalone movie, Star Wars: Rogue One, directed by Gareth Edwards, will follow in December 2016.