Summit Entertainment, which released "Twilight" last month, said the scheduled release of "New Moon" in late 2009 or early 2010 conflicts with Hardwicke's desired planning time. The film, based on the second book in Stephenie Meyer's series, continues to follow the forbidden relationship between vampire Edward Cullen and high schooler Bella Swan.
Hardwicke, whose previous films include "Thirteen" and "Lords of Dogtown," had the highest opening ever for a female director when "Twilight" made nearly $70 million in its first weekend. It's grossed over $138 million in three weeks.
"I am sorry that due to timing I will not have the opportunity to direct 'New Moon,'" Hardwicke said Sunday in a joint news release with Summit. "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."
Erik Feig, Summit's president of production, thanked Hardwicke and said she did "an incredible job in helping us to launch the 'Twilight' franchise."
"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," said Feig.
Hardwicke did not return a call left on her home phone Monday, but a man's voice on the outgoing message said in part: "We've been kicked out of the 'Twilight' editorial, so we're homeless, so please leave your name and number after the tone."