Director Michael Winterbottom Exits Will Ferrell’s Roger Ebert Biopic Russ & Roger

"The Emperor's New Clothes" Premiere - 2015 Tribeca Film Festival

Citing “creative differences,” director Michael Winterbottom has exited comedic biopic Russ & Roger, according to a report by The Wrap.

Attached to the simmering comedic project since last April, Winterbottom appeared to be a shoo-in to take the reins of the feature film when production was finally set in motion early next year, though STX Entertainment will now begin canvassing for a replacement sooner rather than later. Orbiting around the atypical real-life friendship between filmmaker Russ Meyer and film critic Roger Ebert, STX’s drama still has a hold of Will Ferrell and Pixels star Josh Gad, who are on board to play Meyer and Ebert, respectively.

Russ & Roger will chart their mutual love for all things cinema, and their collaborations behind the lens – most notably for 1970’s cult classic Beyond the Valley of the Dolls. Defying the then-steadfast Hollywood establishment in every which way, Ebert and Meyer co-wrote the uproarious feature, even going so far as to defend its controversial X-rating.

It’s a heartening tale that will be transitioned to the screen via Chris Cluess’ script, one which Winterbottom had reportedly polished prior to his recent departure, with Neil Gibbons and Rob Gibbons also touching up the screenplay during the film’s prolonged pre-production. Despite today’s setback, The Wrap notes that David Prmut, Richard Waltzer and Sobini Films’ Mark Amin remain on board to produce.

Where exactly STX Entertainment will take Russ & Roger from here is up for question, though securing a replacement director will surely take precedent at the studio if the comedy biopic really is to meet its 2016 start date.