Not child's play: 'Dark Materials' film proves too much for director

The director of the long-awaited film adaptation of Philip Pullman's fantasy trilogy His Dark Materials has resigned, it was announced yesterday.

Chris Weitz, who directed About A Boy and the teen comedy American Pie, cited "technical" difficulties as he stood down. But Mr Weitz said he would remain involved in the "extraordinary" venture by continuing on the production as screenwriter. "It will be an extraordinary film, but at this point in my life, I am not the right director to bring it to pass," he said.

Mr Weitz was in the early production stages of adapting The Golden Compass, the first book of the award-winning His Dark Materials trilogy. The best-selling trilogy charts the other-worldly adventures of Lyra Belacqua, a young girl who embarks on an imaginative odyssey to the far north to save her best friend.

But the trilogy has attracted controversy in America, where critics have condemned its anti-religious stance. Mr Weitz's resignation came only days after he announced plans to remove references to God or churches to try to appease protests by the Christian right.

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