Star Wars aficionados got a bit of a shock on Friday when Chronicle director Josh Trank, who had been working for nearly a year on the second stand-alone film (following Gareth Edwards’ Rogue One) in the franchise’s expanded universe, left the still-unnamed project. Now, though Trank stated he had “made a personal decision” to jump ship, others report that the director’s unusual work ethic on Fox’s Fantastic Four movie set off alarm bells over at Lucasfilm and led to his ouster.
Trank’s exit appears to have been a long time coming – back in April, he didn’t appear at a Star Wars event in Anaheim, Cali., which he had previously been scheduled to attend. The director claimed he had fallen ill at the time, but The Hollywood Reporter, which had the scoop on Trank’s firing, cites “knowledgeable sources” that explain Lucasfilm had revoked the director’s invitation as they mulled over whether or not they remained confident in his abilities to handle the spinoff.
Evidently, the answer was no. The ubiquitous Simon Kinberg, who produced Trank’s upcoming Fantastic Four reboot for Fox and is also producing the second Star Wars spinoff, reportedly experienced serious issues with Trank on the set of Fantastic Four. One insider described the director as “erratic” and “very isolated.” The source added that, “If you’ve got someone who can’t answer questions or who isn’t sure or is in hiding, that’s not good.”
Others claim Trank was often indecisive and out of communication with the producers. And on a big blockbuster project like Fantastic Four, that’s got to be simply terrifying for the people who are investing their time and money. According to THR’s report, Kinberg and producer Hutch Parker had to get involved and push Trank through the final stages of directing the film, though the director did ultimately complete the project.
For Fox’s part, a studio rep says that all involved are “very happy” with the movie, which opens this July, though they acknowledged, “There were definitely some bumps in the road.”