'Twilight' Director Catherine Hardwicke Will NOT Direct 'New Moon'

Catherine HardwickeIt looks like "New Moon" will indeed live up to its title, bringing in some fresh blood behind the camera. Nikki Finke over at Deadline Hollywood earlier today reported and all parties have now confirmed that Catherine Hardwicke will NOT be returning as the director of the next big screen installment in the "Twilight" saga.

"I am sorry that due to timing I will not have the opportunity to direct NEW MOON,” said Hardwicke. “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,” said Erik Feig, Summit’s President of Production. “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.”

So even as the cast and director continue their press rounds overseas the director and studio have elected to part ways for "New Moon." Will this decision mean the supposed Spring shooting start for the sequel is now in jeopardy? Our guess is probably not as Summit no doubt already has a list of alternate filmmakers cooking. Many helmers are no doubt chomping at the bit for a chance at a sequel as anticipated as this one.

The question of whether Hardwicke would return as the helmer of the second part of the saga has been hanging since even before "Twilight" opened in theaters last month. The argument has only intensified with the opening of the film. On the one hand "Twilight" opened to staggering numbers, exceeding every industry observers expectations. Indeed Hardwicke now holds the honor of helming the biggest opening ever for a film from a female director. But then there were the negative reviews, both from the fans and the critics. Many in both circles have argued aggressively over the quality of the film.

Just last week, Hardwicke -- still enjoying the phenomenal record-breaking opening of her film -- enthusiastically described her plans to return for the sequel. The comprehensive interview with MTV included her thoughts on Taylor Lautner's necessary transformation into a larger (metaphorically and literally) player and how she's considering depicting the wolves in the next part of the story.

This is of course just the first of many arguments sure to bubble up around the filming of "New Moon." Did you want Catherine Hardwicke back as director? And now that she's out, who should direct?

Check out everything we've got on "Twilight" here.