Dark days for Dark Material
Director Chris Weitz has resigned his position at the helm of the screen version of Philip Pullman's novels.
16:05 16 December 2004
The ambitious and daunting prospect of bringing Philip Pullman's fantastical His Dark Materials trilogy to the big screen has endured its first setback with the news that director Chris Weitz has resigned his position.
The young director was a surprise choice for what has the potential to be one of the biggest movie franchises ever made, having only previously worked on American Pie and About a Boy.
But he has now claimed he was not in a position to do justice to the epic adventure at this stage in his career.
"The technical challenges of making such an epic are more than I can undertake at this point," said Weitz, who will remain with the project as screenwriter.
New Line Cinema, the studio behind Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings franchise, is now looking for a new director for the project with a number of big name figures leaping to mind.
Whether it be one of the beards - messrs Spielberg, Lucas et al - or a relative unknown as seems to be the studio's modus operandi in recent times, it will have to be someone who is comfortable with submerging the books' core themes of religion and the attack on God.
Just last week, Weitz had confirmed that no reference to religion or God would be made in the film versions of the much-loved children's book, set across parallel worlds.
"It will be an extraordinary film, but at this point in my life I am not the right director to bring it to pass," said Weitz.
"I look forward to retaining my place as screenwriter and helping to bring Mr Pullman's epic vision to cinematic life. I deeply appreciate his support and the understanding of everyone at New Line in allowing me to step aside."