Unless you’re some Tibetan monk who’s taken a vow of poverty, you probably wish for a bigger financial payoff for your daily work efforts. Well, the two leading stars of Fifty Shades of Grey appear to be no different. Both Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan will reportedly seek a greater, sexier stipend when they negotiate to return for the film’s prospective sequels, starting with Fifty Shades Darker.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, stars Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan will be looking for a salary somewhere in the seven figure range, after having been paid $250,000 plus some tiered box-office bonuses without backend compensation for their onscreen display of irregular recreational ribaldry. The justification for such a bump is pretty well obvious, seeing as Fifty Shades of Grey became a ubiquitous cultural phenomenon which is currently about to round a $550 million global gross.
However, despite the film’s unmitigated financial accomplishment, there are still questions regarding its franchise compatibility. Behind the scenes, things were reportedly anything but harmonious between director Sam Taylor-Johnson and author E.L. James, which has resulted in an apparent vacancy in the director’s chair for the sequel. Additionally, scriptwriter Kelly Marcel will also not be returning for a second helping, according to reports, leaving the sequels -- supposedly set for a 2016 and 2017 shoot -- in a bit of a bind. (And not the sexy kind.)
Additionally, after an impressive, well-timed Valentine’s Day weekend debut, the film experienced an abrupt 70% second week drop off; a rather unusual decline in attendance for something that seemingly injected itself into all aspects of culture around the world. One might surmise that this indicates that the Fifty Shades phenomenon was simply attributed to morbid, prurient curiosity generated by the loads of press regarding its notorious depiction of BDSM sex acts…and maybe nothing more. Such an idea might make even an amateur box-office analyst question the wisdom behind throwing a bunch of money at the stars of a project that could find itself with a serious case of "yesterday’s news-itus" by the time its prospective sequel rolls around.
Reviews for the film were generally vicious, including our own, which didn’t exactly bury the lede, coming out with the words, "limp and lifeless." Yet, the same could be said of the reception for the enormously successful 2011 book of the same name from which the film was inspired. Sales of the subsequent sequels, Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed, both released in 2012, also managed to stay solid, riding the timely tidal wave of hype created by the first book. However, it may be the case that the success of the artistically divisive live-action film may prove to be the zenith of the overall franchise. The broader, curiosity-lead appeal that stands to generate $550 million at the box-office will NOT be repeated.
Despite the inauspicious array of doom and gloom variables, the sequel will most likely happen. At the end of the day, the real story here is about "Fifty Shades of Green." While Fifty Shades Darker will most likely not be the money-maker of its predecessor, it will at least finally provide its stars, Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan with a level of compensation that justifies the possible typecasting effect these films could have on their careers.