It’s pretty common that as soon as a Hollywood movie becomes successful, the studio jumps on the chance to crank out a sequel. When it doesn’t happen like this, it’s something of an anomaly - especially when it comes to ready built franchises. But apparently that’s exactly what’s happening with the Fifty Shades of Grey sequel, Fifty Shades Darker, as news has come in that at this time no one is actually working on it.
If you’re in love with Fifty Shades and hoped to see more of Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey on the big screen sooner rather than later, producer Dana Brunetti has some bad news for you. While talking to The Hollywood Reporter about the progress that the second E.L. James adaptation has made, the filmmaker said,
We literally have no idea what we’re going to do. I have not even met with the studio or anybody yet about the second film. We always said, ‘Let’s get this first one out and released, and then we’ll regroup and figure out what we’re going to do on the next.’ That hasn’t happened yet. So, [author E.L. James] hasn’t been back to the States [from her home in London] yet. I haven’t been into the studio yet. We’ve sent some emails back and forth and were basically like, ‘OK, we’re just going to figure out when everyone can get together and meet.’
That’s surely not what swarms of gasping, rabid fans want to hear; they want more of James’ BDSM fantasies, and they want it now. Critics weren’t kind to Fifty Shades of Grey, but that didn’t keep audiences away when it was released in February. The film earned $85 million its opening weekend, and has to date made more than $558 million worldwide. Against a $40 million budget, that’s not too shabby, and you’d expect the studios to be rushing to churn out another one and strike while the hype and momentum are surging.
In the case of Fifty Shades, the production was rough, to say the least. According to reports, stars Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan both want more money moving forward (Brunetti indicates they should consider themselves lucky to have landed the jobs at all), and do not particularly care for one other. Sources have also said that director Sam Taylor-Johnson will not be back for the next go round, and the clashes she had with James over their respective visions for the film sound like they’re destined to become the stuff of Hollywood legend.
Maybe one of these problems, or more likely a cumulative effect, is behind the delay, but in this era of literary franchise adaptations, we tend to expect the next installment to come out about a year after its predecessor. That’s generally how things have worked with franchises like Twilight, The Hunger Games, Divergent, and The Maze Runner. Even non-book-based film families move fast. The Purge: Anarchy went from green light to theaters in a year.
The Fifty Shades fan base is fervent enough that a delay likely won’t cut into the profits in any significant way. They might lose some casual viewers, but the hardcore are still going to be there. And most fans of the books probably prefer they take their time and get it right rather than rush the whole thing. You can rest assured that, given how much money everyone made, it’s only a matter of time Fifty Shades Darker hits your local cineplex.