Deadline reports that the "One Hour Photo" filmmaker clashed with Disney over his dark vision of the film, which isn't entirely a surprise. Disney probably wanted something quirky, but accessible, ala what Tim Burton did with "Alice In Wonderland" and Romanek wanted something with bite. It's not the first time. Romanek dropped out of "The Wolfman" after spending a few years on it. He also fought with Universal, who wanted something not as dark. Ironically, the final Joe Johnston 'Wolfman' movie is pretty dark, bloody, and somewhat uncompromising (an R-rating, etc). Probably not that far off from the dark tone Romanek wanted to chase after in the first place. The difference being Johnston's film was a disaster—all mood and nothing else worthwhile.
Romanek went on to pull a 180: the reserved, romantic, and very subued drama, "Never Let Me Go." Penned by Aline Brosh McKenna and then rewritten by Chris Weitz ("A Better Life," "The Twilight Saga: New Moon"), "Cinderella" is still aiming to shoot in the summer of this year for what one assumes is an intended 2014 release. Deadline says Disney will be looking to get a director locked in soon so they can keep their shooting schedule and that's sound reasoning.
Romanek's departure adds yet another "what if" possibility to his coulda-been body of work which also includes "Cold Case," a film that was all set to shoot with Tom Hanks and then it fell apart only a few weeks before shooting in 2006. The director's had a hard go of things with developing features and here's to hoping he finds something soon for which he doesn't have to compromise. Though if he's scared off by major studios at this point, we can't blame him.