If the Fifty Shades franchise was placed on a temporary hiatus in 2015 – backroom drama likely didn’t help matters – then Universal is ready to fire up production once again with plans to shoot both Fifty Shades Darker and its sequel Fifty Shades Freed back-to-back.
What that means is the studio’s erotic adaptation is fast becoming a hive of activity, now that Kim Basinger and Pride and Prejudice and Zombies actress Bella Heathcote have been enlisted for next year’s Darker. But make no mistake, Universal is playing the long game with its lucrative franchise, as evidenced by today’s casting of Arielle Kebbel in Fifty Shades Freed.
Best known for her role opposite Dwayne Johnson in HBO’s Ballers, The Hollywood Reporter has learned that Kebbel has joined the threequel as Gia Matteo, a beautiful architect and, surprise, former flame to Jamie Dornan’s Christian Grey. Drawing jealously from Ana (Dakota Johnson reprises her role across both installments), Johnson’s lead even labels Gia as “Miss-Provocative-And-Unfortunately-Good-At-Her-Job.”
Behind the camera, director James Foley and Niall Leonard – husband to Fifty Shades author E.L. James – are now very much the driving forces behind Universal’s cinematic series, with the pair on board to direct and write the next two chapters, respectively. Michael De Luca, Dana Brunetti and Marcus Viscidi will all share producing duties with E.L. James.
Universal’s ensemble only continues to grow for the Fifty Shades saga, and we can readily expect to catch wind of more casting news in the coming weeks. Fifty Shades Darker will serve as the follow-up to last year’s box office smash when it opens on February 10, 2017, before Fifty Shades Freed closes the book on the core series the following year – February 9, 2018.
Source: The Hollywood Reporter