Despite the record-breaking success of Twilight, director Catherine Hardwicke will not return for its sequel New Moon.

The vampire film has earned more than $130 million after just three weeks on release in the US and Summit Entertainment swiftly gave the ok for a sequel.

But according to industry bible Variety, Hardwicke has pulled out of the project over concerns that the studio was overly committed to releasing the film in a year's time.

"I am sorry that due to timing I will not have the opportunity to direct 'New Moon,'" said Hardwicke in a statement.

"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."

Erik Feig, Summit Entertainment's president of production, said the studio had "a mandate" to produce a new instalment in the franchise "in timely fashion".

"We are able to pursue an aggressive time frame as we have the luxury of only adapting the novels into screenplays as opposed to having to create a storyline from scratch," he added.

The teen romance - based on Stephanie Meyer's novel - tells of the love between a human girl (Kristen Stewart) and a vampire (Robert Pattinson).

It grossed $70.6 million (£47.4 million) in its opening weekend in the US to achieve the best-ever box office debut for a female director.

Many of Hardwicke's concerns over the sequel reportedly concerned the development still needed for Melissa Rosenberg's script, which was completed the weekend of Twilight's US opening.

Twilight is released in the UK on December 19th.

08/12/2008 13:57:54