Anand Tucker has exited the job of directing New Line's children'sfantasy epic The Golden Compass, and he has been replaced by the project's original directorChris Weitz.

Weitz relinquished his director's role in December 2004 citingtechnical challenges but stayed on as screenwriter.

Now he gets a second bite of the cherry following the departure ofTucker, the UK film-maker behind Shopgirl and Hilary And Jackie, who has leftdue to "creative differences".

The Golden Compass, the first instalment of Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy, remains in development and it isunclear what impact the shuffle will have on the production schedule. LastAugust New Line sources suggested a late 2007 release was possible.

In a statement Weitz said: "I have never lost my love forPhilip Pullman's work, and staying on as screenwriter gave me a betterunderstanding of how a film version can be accomplished.

"I am disappointed that New Line and Anand didn't end upseeing eye-to-eye, but at the same time when I was told the job of director on TheGolden Compass was openthere was just no way that I could pass it up.

"I feel very confident in the creative and technical crewthat is assembling to take on this challenge."

The Golden Compass centres on the adventures of an 11-year-old English girl calledLyra who is called upon to solve the mystery of vanishing children.

"Itrust Scholastic and New Line to look after my story and when Chris Weitz camealong I knew at once that he had as clear and strong as grasp of the story asanyone I have ever met," Pullman said.

"His personal knowledge of English school and university lifegives him an insight into Lyra's background that is invaluable."

US native Weitzattended school and university in the UK.