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15 December 2004  |  Written by   

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After Harry Potter and Lemony Snicket, there is really only one children's franchise that can be next in the queue for adaptation. That franchise is Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy, arguably better than either of the aforementioned and most assuredly more adult than both. It's a good job that said adaptation is well under way then - at least it was until Chris Weitz extricated himself from the director's chair.

Weitz has announced that he'll no longer be directing the first instalment in the series, Northern Lights (or The Golden Compass to our curious brethren across the pond). The director issued a statement saying that "It will be an extraordinary film, but at this point in my life I am not the right director to bring it to pass. Though I remain honoured to continue serving as caretaker of Philip Pullman's work on the page as this project's screenwriter, the technical challenges of making such an epic are more than I can undertake at this point."

Which leaves this anticipated adaptation stuck between worlds, which may well be appropriate given the storyline but isn't entirely helpful. To recap, His Dark Materials is the story of Lyra, a girl who lives in a slightly different version of our reality. In Lyra's world people are bonded to impish creatures called daemons, polar bears wear armour and rule the north, witches are real and the bonds between realities aren't all they're cracked up to be. After Lyra's friend Roger disappears, she and Pantalaimon (for 'tis her daemon's name) set out on a quest that takes them into our world and through the very fabric of creation. So you can kind of see what Weitz means by 'technical challenges'.

You can bet the project won't be in limbo for long though and we'll wager that it's only a couple of weeks before directors are literally stamping on each others genitals to get their hands on it.

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