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Ask anyone what the key to a successful franchise is, and some will tell you that it's all in the timing. As a matter of fact, it's an unofficial rule of thumb that the quicker you can put those sequels out, the better. Give the right series a yearly slot to inhabit, and it quickly becomes a welcome annual visitor in the hearts and minds of the fans. Of course, if you wait too long between installments, the public could turn their back faster than you can say, "Fifty Shades Darker" - a film that might not see the light of day as quickly as you'd expect.
Variety is reporting that as a result of behind the scenes conflict involvingauthor E.L. James' desire for more creative control, the details regarding the cinematic future of Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele are up in the air. According to the trade, Fifty Shades Darker isn't likely going to be able to get going until the first few months of 2016, which means that it's likely the sequel won't actually be arriving until some time in 2017. At this point, there's no script and no start date, which means that getting the movie out for Valentines Day 2016 is very doubtful.
With an opening weekend that brought in more than enough money to justify funding similarly-budgeted follow-ups, Fifty Shades Of Grey and its two upcoming sequels looked like they could have been Universal's ticket to three Valentine's Days in a row where they'd rule the romantic roost. If they pulled it off, the series could have been the adult equivalent of such success stories as The Hunger Games franchise. Not to mention, the rapid succession of sequels could have helped combat the prime enemy of any franchise: time.
While Fifty Shades Of Grey might have made a splash in 2015, leaving 2016 and 2017 as prime launching pads for Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed respectively, a longer gap between films might dim the market of eager fans awaiting their next round of fun-ishment with zeal and relish. If there is too much time in between releases, there is the risk that the core audience will get distracted by something else during that interim and lose interest by the time it comes back.
Time waits for no person or franchise, and while Fifty Shades Of Grey was lucky to actually manage to land an audience so long after it was published; the years between now and when Fifty Shades Darker is released may not be as kind. Ultimately, fans are going to have to decide whether they want the next two sequels done fast, or done right. Fifty Shades Of Grey is currently in theaters.