THR have reported that Darren Aronofsky has regretfully pulled himself out of 2009’s X-Men Origins: Wolverine sequel, The Wolverine.

It seems that the move is an amicable one with 20th Century Fox; the director simply felt he couldn’t spend the time out of the country and away from his family, which is understandable given that he could be away for close to a year. He said,

“I was not comfortable being away from my family for that length of time. I am sad that I won’t be able to see the project through, as it is a terrific script and I was very much looking forward to working with my friend, Hugh Jackman, again.”

The pair worked together on The Fountain back in 2006, also starring Rachel Weisz (then Aronofsky’s wife), which received very mixed reviews, some glowing and some critical, and ultimately failed to translate well into a box office success.

Aronofsky has been moving from strength to strength in the past few years with The Wrestler and, of course, the Academy Award-winning Black Swan, so the outlook for fans of the Wolverine franchise was certainly looking positive with the announcement of his involvement with the sequel.

However, much of the new film is to be set in Japan, and producer Lauren Shuler Donner had said towards the end of 2009,

“We want to make it authentic so I think it’s very likely we’ll be shooting in Japan.”

So Aronofsky has decided to bow out of the project, unable to commit himself to such a long stay away from home with a four-year-old son still growing up. I personally hope he will be announcing shortly what he is to work on next.

In their joint statement with the director about his exit, Fox said,

“While we are of course disappointed that Darren can’t do The Wolverine, we also understand and respect his reasons. Having done both The Wrestler and Black Swan with Darren, we know he is an extraordinary talent and we look forward to working with him on other projects in the future. Hugh Jackman and Fox both remain fully committed to making The Wolverine. We will regroup and move forward aggressively.”

No replacement has been announced yet, but with an ‘aggressive’ move forwards, we hope to have more news for you in that vein soon. The script, however, has been written, by one Christopher McQuarrie, genius writer of The Usual Suspects, and whose work on the original X-Men script went uncredited. And since it was a script that Aronofsky was clearly very seriously considering directing, I think it should be safe to assume that, provided the film finds another excellent director, we will have something to look forward to when The Wolverine is finally made.