Josh Trank will no longer direct the “Star Wars” spinoff for Disney and Lucasfilm.
The studio made the announcement with Trank on Friday.
“It was a privilege to collaborate with Josh,” Lucasfilm said in a statement. “We are grateful for the energy and love of ‘Star Wars’ that he brought to the process, and we wish him all the best.”
Sources close to the situation tell Variety that Trank and screenwriter Simon Kinberg weren’t thrilled with the idea of working together again. The duo apparently clashed while filming 20th Century Fox’s “Fantastic Four” reboot, which opens later this summer, and Kinberg wanted another director.
Also a writer of Fox’s “X-Men” films, Kinberg is a major force in Disney’s “Star Wars” universe. He recently served as a creative consultant on J.J. Abrams’ “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” which bows in December, and continues to help shape the cherished fantasy series.
Trank’s exit on Friday wasn’t a total shock. Less than two weeks ago, the “Chronicle” director was a no-show to Disney’s Star Wars Celebration at the last minute, prompting internet speculation that something was afoot. The 30 year-old quickly apologized on Twitter, telling fans that he was sick with the flu.
“Hey all. So, so, so sad to have missed today. Worst flu of my life,” he wrote.
Disney later backed his claim, saying Trank notified the studio the morning-of the event about his illness. They also insisted he was still attached to the movie. Other rumors suggested that Disney told him to skip the event.
The untitled “Star Wars” movie won’t be released until 2019, according to sources. It’s one of two standalone pics Disney and Lucasfilm are developing. Gareth Edwards’ “Rogue One,” starring Felicity Jones, opens next year.
Another oddity from the Star Wars Celebration on April 19 event came when 20th Century Fox released the “Fantastic Four” trailer during the Trank and Gareth Edwards’ scheduled panel, leaving industry observers scratching their heads: Why would a major studio film drop a high-profile trailer on Sunday morning? Were they trying to send a message?
Fox, of course, used to distribute the “Star Wars” films before Disney bought Lucasfilm for $4 billion in 2012.
News of Trank’s exit was announced the same day that Disney released its biggest film of the year, “Avengers: Age of Ultron.”
In a statement posted on the “Star Wars” official site, Trank said: “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.”
As for Trank’s next move, a rep for 20th Century Fox told Variety that no director or writer has been set for the “Fantastic Four” sequel. Starring Miles Teller, Kate Mara, Jamie Bell and Michael B. Jordan, the new “Fantastic Four” will be released Aug. 7.
A spokesman for Trank could not be reached for comment.