British director Anand Tucker has been chosen to take over the making of the first movie in author Philip Pullman's award-winning trilogy.
Anand Tucker was a producer on the movie Girl with a Pearl Earring
Anand takes over from Chris Weitz, who said he resigned from the film because of its huge "technical challenges".
The first in the fantasy trilogy is The Golden Compass, which has the UK title Northern Lights.
Pullman said he welcomed the appointment of Tucker, calling his ideas "exciting".
Anand's previous work includes Hilary and Jackie, about the lives of musicians Jacqueline and Hilary Du Pre.
He was also a producer on the movie adaptation of Girl with a Pearl Earring.
New Line Cinema met with more than 50 film-makers interested in taking on the project before handing it to Tucker.
"The opportunity to turn Philip Pullman's extraordinary story into a film is literally a dream come true," said Tucker.
"I instantly fell in love with His Dark Materials when it was first published, and have been a huge fan ever since."
He added: "Phillip has created an incredibly universal story about a reluctant hero whose destiny is nothing less than to save mankind."
Weitz, whose previous films include American Pie and About a Boy, will continue working on the film as a scriptwriter.
"I warmly welcome Anand Tucker as director of the first His Dark Materials film," said Pullman.
"He respects the integrity of the narrative and will maintain that integrity in the film-making process."
The production has already caused controversy because Weitz removed references to God and the church from the script, despite being dominant themes in the book.
The book trilogy was attacked in some quarters for being blasphemous and New Line were concerned that the films could become "financially unviable" in the US.
Pullman denied his books were anti-religious and said he was happy with the way the film was developing.