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Weitz turns out lights on ‘Dark’ duties

New Line launching search to find replacement helmer

Citing the “technical challenges of making such an epic,” Chris Weitz will not direct New Line Cinema’s adaptation of the Philip Pullman trilogy, “His Dark Materials.”

The studio has launched a search to find his replacement.

Weitz emphasized that his exit was not tied to creative differences. New Line plans to move forward with the script he penned for the film.

“Working on ‘The Golden Compass” has been an extraordinary high point of my career,” said Weitz. “It will be an extraordinary film, but at this point in my life, I am not the right director to bring it to pass.”

Weitz most recently directed “About a Boy” for Universal Pictures. His first pic was “American Pie,” which he directed with his brother, “In Good Company” helmer Paul Weitz.

New Line production president Toby Emmerich praised Weitz for his adaptation, which he said “over-delivered.” Added the topper: “I can only respect him for being realistic about the physical, emotional and technical demands of the project.”

The “His Dark Materials” trilogy is comprised of “The Golden Compass,” “The Subtle Knife” and “The Amber Spyglass.” It revolves around a young girl who travels to the far north to save her best friend. Along the way, she encounters otherworldly characters in parallel universes.

Deborah Forte, of “His Dark Materials” publisher Scholastic Entertainment, produces the pic. Emmerich oversees the project, along with executive VP Mark Ordesky and senior VP of European production Ileen Maisel.

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