LOS ANGELES • Ejecting directors from its movie galaxy is starting to become a regular occurrence for Lucasfilm, which said on Tuesday that Colin Trevorrow would no longer direct the ninth chapter in the Star Wars saga.
His departure follows another Lucasfilm shake-up. In June, its president Kathleen Kennedy fired Christopher Miller and Phil Lord as directors of a coming Han Solo spin-off movie - even though filming had already started - and hired Ron Howard as their replacement.
As with Lord and Miller, best known for The Lego Movie (2014) and 22 Jump Street (2014), the ouster of Trevorrow was draped in Hollywood's usual public relations niceties.
"Lucasfilm and Colin Trevorrow have mutually chosen to part ways," a statement posted on Star Wars.com said. "Colin has been a wonderful collaborator throughout the development process, but we have all come to the conclusion that our visions for the project differ."
The statement concluded: "We wish Colin the best and will be sharing more information about the film soon."
Trevorrow declined to comment on Tuesday. No replacement was named.
The film he was meant to direct, Star Wars: Episode IX, is scheduled for release in May 2019.
Filming has not started.
It was unclear why Ms Kennedy lost confidence in Trevorrow, who is best known for directing Jurassic World, which took in US$1.7 billion (S$2.3 billion) worldwide in 2015.
Likely not helping was his last film, a small-budget drama called The Book Of Henry, which arrived to withering reviews and terrible ticket sales in June.
"We did not anticipate that level of vitriolic dislike for the film," he said at the time. "In the end, do I want to be somebody who pleases both audiences and critics? Absolutely. Is that hugely disappointing? It is."
Ms Kennedy and Walt Disney Co, which owns Lucasfilm, have repeatedly shown that they will do whatever it takes to steer the Star Wars franchise as they see best. Creative control for directors extends only so far when the stakes are this high - Star Wars generates billions of dollars in revenue through movie tickets, DVDs, video games and merchandise sales. Massive Star Wars attractions are under construction at multiple Disney theme parks.
The seventh Star Wars film, The Force Awakens, which was directed by J.J. Abrams, took in more than US$2 billion at the box office in 2015. The eighth chapter, The Last Jedi, directed by Rian Johnson, is scheduled for release by Disney on Dec 15.