Fresh from three weeks of solid box office performance for "Twilight," Summit Entertainment has officially tapped Chris Weitz to direct a "New Moon" sequel. Summit made the announcement Saturday morning.
It was unable to reach an agreement for "Twilight" director Catherine Hardwicke to return for the sequel.
"Twilight" has generated domestic grosses of more than $144 million and another $33 million overseas. The vampire thriller's a ready-made franchise for Summit with the four books in Stephenie Meyer's series, already selling over 17 million copies worldwide.
"New Moon" is the second title in the series and is centered on Edward Cullen leaving Bella Swan in order to keep her safe from other vampires. Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart play the leads in the film.
Weitz most recently wrote and directed New Line's "The Golden Compass," which performed adequately domestically with $70 million but was a strong grosser internationally with over $300 million.
"The extraordinary world that Stephenie has created has millions of fans, and it will be my duty to protect on their behalf the characters, themes and story they love," Weitz said in a statement. "This is not a task to be taken lightly, and I will put every effort into realizing a beautiful film to stand alongside a beautiful book."
Weitz also wrote "About a Boy," co-wrote "Antz" and produced "American Pie" and "In Good Company."
Summit said Production on "New Moon" is scheduled to begin soon with a release at the end of 2009 or early 2010.
"Twilight" screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg is penning the sequel.