Despite drawing the ire of most every critic, erotica adaptation Fifty Shades of Grey became Universal’s first smash hit of 2014, so it’s no surprise that the studio is moving full steam ahead on adaptations of both sequel novels by EL James. Now, release dates for Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed have been announced; the former will hit theaters on February 10th, 2017, and the latter will follow almost a year later on February 9th, 2018.
The dates keep to the first film’s Valentine’s Day weekend slot in what’s sure to be a crushing blow to fans of the holiday worldwide. Here’s the franchise’s confirmation, via Twitter:
— Fifty Shades of Grey (@FiftyShades) April 23, 2015
Yesterday, it was revealed that James’ husband Niall Leonard had been tapped to scribe the next installment, tightening the already uncomfortable creative handcuffs that the book author had over the first film. Fifty Shades of Grey helmer Sam Taylor-Johnson notoriously clashed with James throughout the production, and the controls that Universal granted James in a contract ensured that the author came out on top on each and every occasion. Subsequently, it came as little surprise when Taylor-Johnson turned down the sequel gig, leaving Universal on the prowl for a new director.
Whether the increased amount of influence James is poised have over Fifty Shades Darker (Kelly Marcel penned the first film with Taylor-Johnson’s aid, but James held up sequel negotiations by lobbying to pen Fifty Shades Darker herself) will deter possible directors remains to be seen. Taylor-Johnson’s experience sounded like a nightmare, and it’s telling that stars Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson sought a major pay raise for the sequel. After all, they signed on the dotted line for multiple movies and are James’ prisoners until the end.