The official announcement came directly from the Star Wars website: Fantastic Four director Josh Trank, a mysterious no-show at the recent Star Wars Celebration convention, will not direct the second Star Wars Anthology film after all. Here’s the statement that was posted yesterday:

Josh Trank, who was attached to direct the second Star Wars Anthology film, has decided to depart the project.

Trank said, “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.”

Lucasfilm VP of Development Kiri Hart said “It was a privilege to collaborate with Josh. We are grateful for the energy and love of Star Wars that he brought to the process, and we wish him all the best.”

The Star Wars team is continuing to develop the project.

All very polite language indeed, but a Hollywood Reporter article suggests all was not well behind the scenes, calling the departure “a firing” based in part on Trank’s “unusual conduct” while filming Fantastic Four:

Trank, 30, had raised eyebrows in April when he didn’t appear as scheduled at a Star Wars celebration in Anaheim. At the time, both Disney and the director cited illness as the cause but multiple knowledgeable sources say the studio had asked the filmmaker not to attend while considering whether to proceed with him on the second spinoff in a planned series of films.

Indeed, producers on Fantastic Four, set for release August 7, are said to have faced great challenges pulling the film together given behavior described by one insider as “erratic” and at times “very isolated.” Trank did not offer clear direction, this person adds, saying, “If you’ve got someone who can’t answer questions or who isn’t sure or is in hiding, that’s not good.”

A Fox spokesman says the studio is “very happy with the movie and we can’t wait for audiences to see it” but acknowledges, “There were definitely some bumps in the road.”

Among those bumps: Trank has several small dogs who were left in a rented house in New Orleans while the film was shooting there. According to sources, as much as $100,000 worth of damage was done to the property. A source says the production considers any destruction of the property to be Trank’s responsibility.

The article cited sources that called Trank “sometimes indecisive and uncommunicative,” and noted that Fantastic Four, which opens August 7, was undergoing reshoots as recently as late April. Trank thanked Kinberg in his statement above, but as the Hollywood Reporter article notes:

Kinberg, who is producing the second Star Wars standalone project (the first, Rogue One, is being directed by Gareth Edwards for a December 2016 release), is said to have communicated his displeasure with Trank to Kathleen Kennedy and the team at Lucasfilm. As the Star Wars brain trust heard more about Trank’s behavior and working style, they became less confident in handing over the film to him.

The studio is now hunting for a new director to take over. Any recommendations?

Photo via StarWars.com