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Josh Trank Departs 'Star Wars' Spinoff Movie Director's Chair

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It's been over three full years since Disney surprised movie fandom with the acquisition of Lucasfilm, and most importantly, everything Star Wars. During the announcement, Disney made it clear that they would be developing a new trilogy (Episodes 7, 8, and 9) set to follow the events of the prior hexalogy - as well as other stories set in the same universe.  At the time, it was unclear how exactly the side-stories would connect to the main story and, over the last few years, we've heard reports of everything from solo prequels based on key Star Wars characters (Han Solo and Yoda) to a Seven Samurai-inspired story of Jedi warriors facing impossible odds.

However, since then, new details have become available - with Lucasfilm outright revealing that Godzilla and Monsters director Gareth Edwards would be helming the first "Star Wars Anthology" spin-off, titled Rogue One for 2016 release. Along with Edwards, Lucasfilm hired Chronicle and Fantastic Four's Josh Trank to direct the second Anthology entry, to premiere in 2018 (a year after Episode 8). Unfortunately, following rumors that suggested Trank might exit the project, the studio and filmmaker have made it official: Josh Trank has stepped down from Star Wars spinoff directing duties.

In a joint Lucasfilm statement, the director, along with Star Wars story director Kiri Hart, broke the news to fans.

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Trank was vague on details (expressing his appreciation for the opportunity, thanking his Lucasfilm "friends", and teasing "original creative opportunities" that are now his priority). You can read his full statement below:

"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.”

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Following Trank's lead, Hart was equally polite but equally unrevealing:

"It was a privilege to collaborate with Josh. We are grateful for the energy and love of Star Wars that he brought to the process, and we wish him all the best.”

So why did Trank leave the high profile Star Wars project, which he openly admits was an influence of his from a young age, after a year of development? The director became a source of controversy at Star Wars Celebration 2015 - when he outright no-showed at a spinoff panel that was advertised as a conversation between the two spinoff directors (along with Hart, Star Wars writer Pablo Hidalgo, and Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy).

You can see the original listing for the Star Wars Celebration panel below:

STAR WARS CELEBRATION 2015: CONVERSATIONS WITH GARETH EDWARDS AND JOSH TRANK

JOIN THE DIRECTORS OF THE UPCOMING STAND-ALONE FILMS IN A SPECIAL STAR WARS CELEBRATION DISCUSSION!

Kathleen Kennedy, Kiri Hart and Pablo Hidalgo will be joined by directors Gareth Edwards and Josh Trank, who will share their experiences as the newest members of the Lucasfilm creative family. Learn how the teams came together and are collaborating to conceive and create the upcoming stand-alone films in the galaxy far, far away.

Later, Trank took to Twitter to explain his absence - blaming the "worst flu of my life" for preventing him from attending:

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