Star Wars spin-off loses writer

Disney's forthcoming Star Wars spin-off film has lost its writer, with THR reporting that Gary Whitta has walked away from the project after completing a first draft.

Whitta had been working closely with director Gareth Edwards, who took the opportunity to praise the screenwriter's work when his departure was confirmed.

"Gary has been a wonderful, inspired contributor and I enjoyed working with him tremendously,” said Edwards. “I’m so grateful for all of his contributions."

Whitta also released a statement, saying, "The year I spent working with Lucasfilm on this Star Wars film has been by far the most rewarding period of my entire career."

"As a lifelong Star Wars fan I’m deeply grateful to have had the rare opportunity to contribute to a new chapter in its ongoing cinematic legacy. The film is going to be amazing."

Reasons for Whitta's departure have yet to be revealed, with neither Lucasfilm nor Disney providing comment on the appointment of a replacement. The film is set to open on 16 December 2016.