In her unending quest to make even more money out of dressed-up Twilight fanfiction, Fifty Shades of Grey author EL James has announced plans to release Grey, a spinoff from her BDSM romance trilogy, retelling the events of the first volume from the perspective of enigmatic billionaire Christian Grey.
Of course, given that Universal made $570 million off the first installment in its Fifty Shades franchise, adapting the spinoff somewhere down the line seems like a given – but luckily for stars Jamie Dornan (who plays the domineering Grey) and Dakota Johnson (who plays submissive college student Anastasia), neither is obligated to return beyond the three main installments.
Sources close to Universal tell The Hollywood Reporter that, while Grey is definitely in line to get a film adaptation after Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed, neither Dornan nor Johnson are contracted for it. This makes sense, given that James hadn’t announced Grey at the time Fifty Shades of Grey was getting off the ground, but it poses an interesting question for the studio: renegotiate or recast?
The two actors’ reps are intently renegotiating their contracts for the second and third films in hopes of getting more money, plus tiered box office bonuses, particularly in light of what a miserable experience the first shoot was and how little they got paid for it. As such, renegotiations to include Grey seem to be a while off.
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For now, Universal head Donna Langley is focusing on Fifty Shades Darker, for which James’ husband Niall Leonard is writing the script as part of the author’s battle to gain absolute creative control over the franchise. It’s no secret that James and Fifty Shades of Grey director Sam Taylor-Johnson (not back for the sequel) clashed on set, with the language in James’ contract allowing her to creatively muffle the director at every turn, on everything from the amount of nudity to some of the dialogue, and now the writer has tightened her grip on the franchise.
Universal is hunting for a director to replace Taylor-Johnson, but word is that it will have to aim a little lower than that acclaimed helmer, given that word has leaked out about how awful James was to work with on set, and how unhelpful Langley was in reining her in. Few directors are gluttons for punishment to the degree that they would sign up to be whipped around by James whenever they attempted to, you know, direct.
Fifty Shades Darker has been set for February 10, 2017, and Fifty Shades Freed arrives February 9, 2018.