It won’t be long before Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele are strutting back onto our screens once more. Yes, despite the middling reception of Sam Taylor-Johnson’s 2014 erotic drama, a box office haul of $570 million ensured that Universal issued the green light on both Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed, the next two installments in E.L. James’s literary juggernaut.
The latest update from the Fifty Shades of Grey camp arrives from The Wrap, revealing that the studio has mapped out plans to shoot each installment back to back as Universal aligns Darker and Freed for 2017 and 2018, respectively. Buoyed by the success of their predecessor, each sequel is on course to arrive in and around the lucrative Valentine’s Day window.
Welcoming back both Jamie Dornan (Christian) and Dakota Johnson (Anastasia) as the conflicted lovestruck pair, Darker and Freed will chart the trials and tribulations of their impassioned relationship – both physically and emotionally. Niall Leonard, husband to James, is set to adapt the screenplay for each new chapter in Universal’s romantic series, while Michael De Luca and Dana Brunetti return as producers. E.L. James is also in the hot seat to produce.
Supplanting Johnson in the director’s chair is James Foley, given that the former had a much-publicized fallout with James on set, reportedly becoming embroiled in debates over scripts and such. It was a viewpoint echoed by Fifty Shades of Grey screenwriter Kelly Marcel, who went on record about the kerfuffle, and it is perhaps this controversy that prevented Universal from fast-tracking a sequel immediately.
In the wake of today’s Fifty Shades announcement, Fifty Shades Darker will act as the franchise’s sophomore outing on February 10, 2017, before Fifty Shades Freed brings the curtain down the following year on February 9, 2018.