Confirming what many had long assumed to be the case, Fifty Shades of Grey director Sam Taylor-Johnson officially announced last night that she will not be returning to the kinky world of Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele for sequel Fifty Shades Darker.
Though her polished direction was one of the only universally praised aspects of the massively popular erotica adaptation, Taylor-Johnson was reportedly left exhausted – and feeling like she never wanted to make a movie again – by on-set battles with book author E.L. James, whose contract with Universal gave her unprecedented creative control over the film. In essence, the director was creatively handcuffed by James, who had firm opinions about everything from how much sex was on display to the color of a character’s dress in a particular scene. Sometimes, it got tense between the two, and it makes sense that Taylor-Johnson wouldn’t want to go through that ordeal again for another installment.
In a statement to Deadline, the director said:
“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 and Jamie. 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.”
Universal will now scramble to find a new filmmaker to bring Fifty Shades Darker and trilogy topper Fifty Shades Freed to the big screen, though they may be out of luck searching for one of Taylor-Johnson’s caliber. All the pain she was forced to endure at James’ hands might scare off any big fish looking for an easy paycheck.
Stars Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan are under option deals for the next two films, though they’ve reportedly been looking for a sizable paycheck bump, possibly because James has stated her intention to maintain creative control over the sequels as well. Universal is surely keen to get the next movie into theaters quickly, seeing as Fifty Shades of Grey has grossed $558 million worldwide thus far, but it may have both hands tied behind its back, so to speak, in finding a talented director who’s also a glutton for punishment.