Chris Weitz has resigned as director of the film adaptation of Philip Pullman's fantasy trilogy His Dark Materials.
Chris Weitz previously directed About a Boy and American Pie
"The technical challenges of making such an epic are more than I can undertake at this point," said Weitz, who previously directed About a Boy.
He will remain as the trilogy's screenwriter and film studio New Line Cinema is searching for a new director.
Earlier this month Weitz removed references to God from the adaptation after New Line expressed concern.
The award-winning book trilogy - Northern Lights, The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass - tell the story of Oxford girl Lyra Belacqua.
Weitz described his work on the film of The Golden Compass, the US name for first book in the series Northern Lights, as "an extraordinary high point of my career".
Philip Pullman's books have become international best-sellers
"It will be an extraordinary film, but at this point in my life I am not the right director to bring it to pass," said Weitz, who also directed American Pie.
"I look forward to retaining my place as screenwriter and helping to bring Mr Pullman's epic vision to cinematic life. I deeply appreciate his support, and the understanding of everyone at New Line in allowing me to step aside."
New Line production president Toby Emmerich said: "Chris over-delivered on the script, and I can only respect him for being realistic about the physical, emotional and technical demands of the project.
"His Dark Materials is an amazing story, and at this point we have such a strong screenplay I'm confident we'll have real interest from A-level film-makers."
The Golden Compass will be produced by Deborah Forte, who previously produced Clifford's Really Big Movie, and is due for release in 2006.