There was a disturbance in the Force known as the Star Wars anthology film series as Lucasfilm announced that director Josh Trank will no longer helm the second Star Wars standalone movie. No replacement director has been announced but Lucasfilm and Disney promise they will continue to develop the project, which was set for release in 2018.
“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,” Trank said in a statement posted on the Star Wars official site. “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.”
In addition to the three J.J. Abrams-led Star Wars sequels – kicking off this December with The Force Awakens – Disney and Lucasfilm previously revealed they would release a series of “anthology” films; movies based on the space saga’s expansive mythology that were tethered to but still unconnected from the storyline of Episodes One through Nine. The first of those films, Gareth Edwards’ Rouge One, will arrive in 2016. Trank’s anthology film, rumored to be about Han Solo and Princess Leia, was due in 2018.
The first sign that Trank and Star Wars might have parted ways was when the director didn’t join Edwards for a panel dedicated to the anthology films at Star Wars Celebration Anaheim in April. (Trank tweeted he had the “Worst flu of my life.”) However, according to The Hollywood Reporter, it was Trank’s “erratic” work on the upcoming superhero film Fantastic Four that motivated Lucasfilm to seek out a new director.
Trank, whose first feature-length film was the found-footage flick Chronicle, previously revealed to Rolling Stone that his initial taste of success was the Star Wars-inspired YouTube short “Stabbing at Leia’s.” “We spent literally $80 on it, borrowing some fake light sabers and some cheap stormtrooper costumes. I did all the rotoscoping myself, drawing every frame of the light saber effects by hand,” Trank said of his 2007 short that he shot with friends. Seven years later, Trank was recruited to helm an actual Star Wars film before deciding to pursue other “creative opportunities.”