'Star Wars' Standalone Movie Loses Writer Gary Whitta (Exclusive)

Star Wars Force Awakens Falcon H 2014
<p>Star Wars Force Awakens Falcon H 2014</p>   |   Walt Disney Studios
Gareth Edwards is directing the movie

Gary Whitta is no longer writing a Star Wars standalone movie.

Whitta was working with Gareth Edwards, the filmmaker behind last year’s Godzilla movie, on the project and completed a first draft. But he has now left the project, which will likely hire a new writer.

Sources say Whitta is now moving on to his next project, which is unknown at this time. One of the projects on his docket is Starlight, Fox’s adaptation of the Mark Millar sci-fi comic book miniseries.

“Gary has been a wonderful, inspired contributor and I enjoyed working with him tremendously,” said Edwards in a statement. “I’m so grateful for all of his contributions. ”

Said Whitta, “The year I spent working with Lucasfilm on this Star Wars film has been by far the most rewarding period of my entire career. As a lifelong Star Wars fan I’m deeply grateful to have had the rare opportunity to contribute to a new chapter in its ongoing cinematic legacy. The film is going to be amazing."

Whitta and Edwards have been working on the Star Wars project since around May 2014.

Lucasfilm and Disney did not comment on the hiring of a new writer.

This is not the first time a writer has stepped off a Star Wars project after doing initial work on it. Michael Arndt worked on a treatment and script for what was becoming the J.J. Abrams-directed movie before leaving it over a year after commencing on it. Abrams and Lawrence Kasdan took over the script-writing duties.

The Star Wars standalone has a release date of Dec. 16, 2016.