Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back

Only a few weeks after the joyous parade of positivity that was Star Wars Celebration, we might finally be seeing the first crack in the badass chrome armor of Disney’s new Star Wars movies. Over the weekend, while everyone was distracted by the latest superhero smash-up, Disney quietly announced that Chronicle director Josh Trank has stepped down as the director of whatever the second Star Wars spinoff movie was going to be. Oh, and by “stepped down,” we mean, “Disney may have fired him.”

Let’s back up: Lucasfilm and Disney announced that Trank had been hired back in June of last year, with Trank sitting as a pretty hot commodity in Hollywood after directing Chronicle, the critically acclaimed found-footage superhero movie. He was also working on Fox’s Fantastic Four reboot with producer Simon Kinberg, who happens to be producing the second Star Wars spinoff. According to The Hollywood Reporter, though, production on Fantastic Four didn’t go especially well, with “one insider” claiming that Trank was “erratic” and “very isolated.” Someone from Fox even acknowledged that there were “some bumps in the road,” and now THR suggests that Kinberg “was getting cold feet about working with Trank again.”

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That brings us back to Star Wars Celebration. At the event, Gareth Edwards—who is directing the first spinoff, Rogue Onerevealed some plot details and other early information about his movie. Trank was scheduled to appear as well, but he didn’t show up. At the time, he tweeted that he couldn’t make it because he had come down with the flu—a story that Disney corroborated—but rumors are now claiming that this was all a cover. Supposedly, Trank and Disney/Lucasfilm were already getting ready to part ways, so he was asked not to attend Celebration.

Hey all. So, so, so sad to have missed today. Worst flu of my life. I hear it went beautifully with Gareth. Here’s to next year. #SWCA

— Josh Trank (@joshuatrank) April 19, 2015

Of course, nobody will admit that anything bad happened behind the scenes, but Trank posted a message on the official Star Wars site that explains his reasoning for leaving:

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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Luckily, Trank already made a Star Wars movie back in 2007, so it’s almost like we’re not really missing out on anything here.