‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ Sequels Will Shoot Back to Back, James Foley Confirmed to Direct
In a development likely to give Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan some sense of relief, Universal has officially decided to shoot Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed back to back, giving its actors a chance to fulfill their commitments to the troubled franchise in one fell swoop. In addition, the studio has confirmed James Foley to direct both sequels, with author E.L. James’ husband Niall Leonard adapting both stories for the big screen.
The Wrap reports that Foley has been officially tapped to direct Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed, which will hit theaters on February 10, 2017 and February 9, 2018, respectively. Foley is best known for directing Glengarry Glen Ross and the Mark Wahlberg-Reese Witherspoon thriller Fear, as well as episodes of acclaimed Netflix political series House of Cards.
Author and screenwriter Niall Leonard will draft screenplays for both sequels, utilizing his professional talents and, um, intimate familiarity with his wife’s novels to help transition the stories from page to screen.
The Fifty Shades of Grey franchise suffered a blow following the release of the surprisingly somewhat-entertaining first film, scripted by Kelly Marcel and directed by Sam Taylor-Johnson, as both women parted ways with the series over disputes with E.L. James. Marcel’s script inarguably improved upon the tedious and unappealing source material, instilling the characters — especially Anastasia Steele — with a sense of self-awareness and humor.
It’s also been reported that both stars pushed for higher salaries for the sequels following the success of the first film, with rumors circulating that Dornan and Johnson not only shared little chemistry, but didn’t quite get along on set.
The first film centered on the relationship between the naive young Anastasia and the enigmatic, emotionally distant millionaire executive Christian Grey, who has a fondness for sexual dominance and BDSM. Although the pair broke up at the end of the first film (spoiler, I guess), subsequent films promise a dramatic reunion.