In an official statement by Marvel Studios, they claimed this separation was due to “creative differences,” stating:
“Marvel Studios and Scott Derrickson have amicably parted ways on ‘Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness’ due to creative differences, we remain grateful to Scott for his contributions to the MCU.”-Marvel Studios
Scott Derrickson himself has since seemed to confirm this in a tweet not long after the news broke.
Marvel and I have mutually agreed to part ways on Doctor Strange: In the Multiverse of Madness due to creative differences. I am thankful for our collaboration and will remain on as EP.— N O S ⋊ Ɔ I ᴚ ᴚ Ǝ ᗡ ⊥ ⊥ O Ɔ S (@scottderrickson) January 10, 2020
While Derrickson may no longer be attached to the project as a director, Derrickson confirmed he will still remain on as Executive Producer.
Even though creative differences was the reason given for the split, there has been some interesting news lately that may point elsewhere.
Since first deemed to really lean into its horror elements, President of Marvel Studios Kevin Feige, recently came out and said that although [the Doctor Strange sequel] has “scary sequences”, it will not be a horror film.
“I wouldn’t necessarily say that it’s a horror film, but … it’ll be a big MCU film with scary sequences in it.”-Kevin Fiege
Given Derrickson’s history with horror films, it’s certainly interesting the news of his departure comes merely a week after Fiege’s comment. Whether there’s any connection, or simply just a coincidence, remains to be seen.
Despite losing its director, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is still set for a May 7, 2021 release date with production beginning in May of this year. The hunt is on at Marvel Studios as they search for a replacement director, so expect an announcement on that sooner rather than later.