His Dark Materials: Citing the "technical challenges of making such an epic," director Chris Weitz has exited New Line Cinema's highly anticipated adaptation of the bestselling Philip Pullman trilogy His Dark Materials, and the studio has launched a search to find his replacement.

Weitz emphasized that his exit was not tied to any creative differences regarding the project, and he expressed satisfaction that New Line is planning to move forward with the script he penned for the film.

"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."

New Line has received interest from a number of accomplished filmmakers about taking over the reins of His Dark Materials, and the studio is currently in the process of deciding on a new director.

"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."

Pullman added, "I chose New Line Cinema not only because of their profound technical expertise when it comes to this sort of film-making, but mainly because of their evident commitment to the values and the heart of this particular story. They know the importance of what it says about human freedom, and they want to say it with force and clarity."

Based on the bestselling Pullman novels, the His Dark Materials trilogy is comprised of The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass. It 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.

His Dark Materials is being produced by Deborah Forte of Scholastic Entertainment, the publisher of the His Dark Materials books. New Line production president Toby Emmerich is overseeing the project along with executive vp Mark Ordesky and senior vp European production Ileen Maisel.