Colin Trevorrow has left as director of the third instalment of the Star Wars sequels trilogy, Lucasfilm announced on Tuesday, citing differing visions between the filmmaker and studio executives.
Trade press and websites had been speculating that Trevorrow, 40, was going to leave the blockbuster since the opening of his critically-panned commercial flop The Book of Henry.
"Lucasfilm and Colin Trevorrow have mutually chosen to part ways on Star Wars: Episode IX," Lucasfilm said in a statement.
"Colin has been a wonderful collaborator throughout the development process, but we have all come to the conclusion that our visions for the project differ. We wish Colin the best and will be sharing more information about the film soon."
The Hollywood Reporter, citing unnamed sources, said the main point of contention was ongoing "script issues," with Trevorrow being forced into several rewrites.
The weekly trade paper reported that the relationship between Trevorrow and Lucasfilm chief Kathleen Kennedy had become "unmanageable," although it added that she had tried to avoid losing another director.
In June, Lucasfilm sacked directing duo Phil Lord and Chris Miller (21 Jump Street, The Lego Movie), who were just weeks away from wrapping principal photography on the hotly-anticipated Han Solo spin-off.
The pair were replaced by Oscar-winning filmmaker Ron Howard after clashing with Kennedy and writer Lawrence Kasdan, according to reports.
Although not strictly a parting of the ways over creative differences, Fantastic Four director Josh Trank dropped out of developing a Star Wars spin-off in 2015, citing the enormous pressures of being involved with the franchise.
The project, reportedly an origin story centred on the bounty hunter character Boba Fett, has yet to get a new director or a release date.
Trevorrow's departure will be seen as a significant upheaval as he is considered hot property after scoring big with Universal's creature feature Jurassic World (2015), the fourth-highest grossing movie of all time.
News of the decision sparked a frenzy of speculation on social media over who might be handed Trevorrow's job, as well as plenty of pithy barbs on the high turnover of Lucasfilm directors.
Among the suggested replacements were British filmmaker Christopher Nolan (Inception, Dunkirk), Batman vs. Superman helmer Zack Snyder and enigmatic Twin Peaks director David Lynch, who turned down Return of the Jedi (1983).
"At this point, the children of House Stark have a better survival rate than Star Wars directors," tweeted Angie Han, former editor of the SlashFilm blog in an oblique nod to the high death rate on HBO's Game of Thrones.
"Hollywood Pro Tip: young directors, don't take that STAR WARS gig," tweeted movie industry financial analyst Exhibitor Relations.
"Saddened by this news. Colin T is a smart guy and a good dude. He was clearly over the moon about doing the film," added Nick de Semlyen, the features editor at British film magazine Empire.
The untitled Han Solo movie is due out on May 25 next year, while production has yet to start on Star Wars: Episode IX, slated for release 12 months later.
The Last Jedi, the next film in the Star Wars franchise, directed by Rian Johnson, opens on December 15.