Josh Trank exits second Star Wars spinoff film, Fantastic Four potentially to blame

The second film in Disney’s Star Wars spinoff universe is looking for a new director — and it could be because of all those Fantastic Four troubles.

Director Josh Trank has officially exited the film to pursue other projects, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The 30-year-old director became a hot commodity thanks to his awesome sci-fi debut Chronicle, and is preparing to unveil his (somewhat controversial) take on the Fantastic Four later this year. A separate report notes that the wacky conditions behind the scenes of Fantastic Four (which shared a producer with the Star Wars spinoff, Simon Kinberg) were a major factor surrounding the exit.

The move is obviously a surprise, but it’s apparently been in the works for a few weeks now. Trank was apparently having doubts about his long-term involvement before Star Wars Celebration, which was part of the reason he didn’t participate in the spinoffs panel. At the time, his absence was blamed on a bad case of the flu — but new reports indicate the Disney brass asked him not to attend, since he already had one foot out the door.

Here’s Trank’s official statement on the departure:

"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."

For a young director like Trank, it’s a risky career move to drop off one of the biggest franchises in existence — but fresh off his troubled experience on Fantastic Four (though we have to admit the new trailers are looking solid), it makes sense why he might be hesitant to jump right into another major franchise. He cut his teeth on a personal project, and it seems that’s apparently where his passion lies. Galaxy far, far away or not.

Lucasfilm VP of Development Kiri Hart noted it “was a privilege to collaborate with Josh,” adding that the Star Wars team is “grateful for the energy and love” he brought to the project. Disney has also confirmed the project will (obviously) move forward with someone else at the helm. Much like the Marvel movies, these things are bigger than any one director for Disney. It’s a machine, and the machine rolls on.

According to a separate report, the exit might not be quite as amicable as it seems. Apparently Disney caught wind of all the trouble surrounding Fantastic Four, and it seems some lack of communications behind the scenes and that fact that Edwards was reportedly overwhelmed by the experience threw up some red flags for the Disney brass. An anonymous studio source noted Trank has the talent but lacks the "character-based skills" for something of this scope.

As for what the film is actually about? We still don’t know. The first Anthology spinoff film, Gareth Edwards’ Star Wars: Rogue One, hits in 2016 and will focus on a team of rebel soldiers stealing the Death Star plans. Virtually nothing had been revealed about Trank’s film, and considering its still a few years in the offing, Disney has more than enough time to put the pieces back together.

What’s your take on Trank’s departure? Who would you like to see take his place?

(Via The Hollywood Reporter)

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