Universal’s kink-fuelled desire to trot out a sequel to Fifty Shades Of Grey has been hindered by a series of hurdles in spite of its $525 million worldwide haul. That impressive figure netted the studio a handsome return on the film’s measly $40 million budget – but financial extravagance can’t soothe the sting of a troubled production. On set battles between director Sam Taylor-Johnson and author E.L. James were reported on the first outing. That matter since bubbled up further with career-ending talk from the helmer, amid concern from James over who should pen the follow-up, Fifty Shades Darker.
The next issue to arise stems from the film’s two stars: Jamie Dornan, who played billionaire misogynist Christian Grey, and Dakota Johnson, who tapped into her breathy helpless side as his sex lackey Anastasia Steele. In spite of their onscreen coupling generating no chemistry whatsoever, the duo are now seeking significant pay rises for future instalments in the erotic franchise.
Per THR, the pair are demanding a pay increase into the seven figure range. The modest sums they received for the first movie – $250,000 – were a part of their three-picture deal that included a tiny percentage of box office takings. Now, they are each hoping to up their pay checks to match the salaries bagged by huge franchise frontrunners like Jennifer Lawrence. That Oscar-winning actress appeared in the first Hunger Games for $500,000, a figure which increased to a colossal $10 million for sequel Catching Fire. Dornan and Johnson are eyeing up a similar strategy as they progress into the S&M franchise.
Concerns from the studio suggest it’s hoping to once again keep production costs low – around the similar $40 million mark. If the two leads are dead set on landing a bigger paycheck, producer Dana Brunetti believes they should be looking elsewhere:
“That was the great thing about this film — we knew we were going to be able to make stars,” he told THR. “Now it’s their opportunity to get paid on other projects. It’s been a breakout role for both of them. I’m sure they are getting tons of offers on other things.”
The current plan for the Fifty Shades Of Grey sequel is to enlist a director, a screenwriter, secure its two leads and then satisfy the egotistical demands of its author. As it stands, Universal hopes to shoot Fifty Shades Darker in early 2016 for a 2017 release.