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House of Cards will lose creator Beau Willimon for fifth season

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Netflix

Netflix's flagship original series House of Cards has lost creator Beau Willimon, who won't return as showrunner for the series' fifth season due out in 2017, according to reports from Deadline and The Hollywood Reporter. House of Cards' fourth season is set to premiere on March 4th, and Netflix and production house MRC announced the fifth season renewal today alongside Willimon's departure. There is no replacement yet for the screenwriter and Virginia native, who for the last five years has helped steer the adaptation of the British mini-series as it's grown to become one of Netflix's most critically acclaimed and award-winning properties.

"Netflix and MRC owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to Beau Willimon for his strong narrative vision for House of Cards over the show’s first four seasons," both companies said in a joint statement. "As an Academy Award nominated writer, he made his first foray into television and built a riveting and critically acclaimed series, establishing his place in TV history. The producers, cast, and crew join us in wishing Beau the best in his next creative adventure."

Willimon is said to be working on an original play

"I'm grateful to Netflix and MRC, my fellow executive producers, our two incandescent stars Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright, our talented writers, as well as the incredible cast and crew with whom I've had the privilege to work," Willimon said in a statement. He didn't disclose why he left the show, choosing only to say, "After five years and four seasons, it's time for me to move on to new endeavors, but I'm supremely proud of what we've built together, wish the show much continued success, and leave it in the hands of a very capable team."

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Willimon is said to be working on an original play. That wouldn't be out of character considering Willimon graduated from Juilliard's playwrights program, where he wrote a number of well-received plays that went to production. Unfortunately for House of Card fans, it's unclear how Willimon's departure will affect the direction of the series, which meandered quite a bit in season three and received lower marks from critics as a result.

Update at 7:35PM ET, Thursday, January 28th: Added statement from Beau Willimon.