LOS ANGELES, Dec. 8 (UPI) -- Summit Entertainment and Catherine Hardwicke have announced that the U.S. filmmaker will not direct the next installment of the "Twilight" movie franchise.
Although Hardwicke directed "Twilight," the first film in the series, the studio is now looking for a new director for the sequel, which is due for release late next year or early 2010.
"I am sorry that, due to timing, I will not have the opportunity to direct 'New Moon,'" Hardwicke said in a statement. "Directing 'Twilight' has been one of the great experiences of my life, and I am grateful to the fans for their passionate support of the film. I wish everyone at Summit the best with the sequel -- it is a great story."
"Catherine did an incredible job in helping us to launch the 'Twilight' franchise and we thank her for all of her efforts and we very much hope to work with her on future Summit projects," Erik Feig, Summit's president of production, said in a statement.
"We as a studio have a mandate to bring the next installment in the franchise to the big screen in a timely fashion so that fans can get more of Edward, Bella and all of the characters that Stephenie Meyer has created. We are able to pursue an aggressive time frame as we have the luxury of only adapting the novels into screenplays as opposed to having to create a storyline from scratch."