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We recently reported that despite the fact that Fifty Shades of Grey had earned gobs of money at the international box office (tallying $558 million worldwide), there had been no real conversation regarding an adaptation of E.L. James’ second novel, Fifty Shades Darker. As it turns out, that was only half true. Fifty Shades of Grey director Sam Taylor-Johnson has been talking about the sequel, and has determined that she wants absolutely nothing to do with it.
Sam Taylor-Johnson officially has announced that she will not return to helm Fifty Shades Darker, according to a statement released to Deadline. The director took a diplomatic tact, thanking everyone at the studio for their support and wishing the franchise nothing but luck as she washed her hands of the potential series.
Directing Fifty Shades Of Grey has been an intense and incredible journey for which I am hugely grateful. I have Universal to thank for that. I forged close and lasting relationships with the cast, producers and crew and most especially, with Dakota [Johnson] and Jamie [Dornan]. While I will not be returning to direct the sequels, I wish nothing but success to whosoever takes on the exciting challenges of films two and three.
But will the second and third chapters of the Fifty Shades of Grey series actually happen? On paper, they appear to be a no-brainer. E.L. James’ books flew off of the bookshelves, and as we mentioned, the initial Fifty Shades did very well at the box office because of a curiosity factor. But the movies have juggled an unusual amount of negativity both behind the scenes and in front of the cameras, making the sequels anything but slam dunks. It was well publicized that Sam Taylor-Johnson and James squabbled over creative decisions on the first film. There have been endless articles about the lack of chemistry shared between the leading actors (something that’s detrimental to a movie series that’s supposed to center on forbidden attractions), which hasn't stopped the actors from demanding huge raises. A rumor even surfaced that Jamie Dornan was done with playing Christian Grey, because the film role was damaging his personal life. Alas, he’s under contract, and will return to Fifty Shades of Darker if it happens.
The big hold up will be finding a new director who is willing to work with James and a pre-selected cast. The Wrap also adds that Fifty Shades of Grey screenwriter Kelly Marcel is "not expected" to return for the sequel, so Universal might truly be back at Square One. Will they advance from here? Does anyone really want them to?