Weitz Steps Down from His Dark Materials

Director Chris Weitz has stepped down as director on HIS DARK MATERIALS: THE GOLDEN COMPASS, citing the expansive technical challenges. New Line will launch a search for a new director immediately. The ABOUT A BOY helmer made it clear that the move was not due to creative differences, thus heading off rumors that the move was over the recent announcement that the film would secularize the Philip Pullman novel in an effort to make the film not seem anti-religious. Weitz penned the screenplay, which will be used by the new director.

"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. Though I remain honored to continue serving as caretaker of Philip Pullman's work on the page as this project's screenwriter, the technical challenges of making such an epic are more than I can undertake at this point. 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."

"HIS DARK MATERIALS is an amazing story, and at this point we have such a strong screenplay, I'm confident we'll have real interest from A-level filmmakers," said New Line production president Toby Emmerich. "Chris over-delivered on the script, and I can only respect him for being realistic about the physical, emotional, and technical demands of the project."

Based on the bestselling trilogy, the story revolves around a young girl who travels to the far north to save her best friend. Along the way she encounters shape-shifting creatures, witches and a variety of otherworldly characters in parallel universes.

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