Sam Taylor-Johnson has made official what many suspected. She will not return for the second installment of the film franchise adaptation of E L James’ best-selling Fifty Shades Of Grey book trilogy for Universal.
In an exclusive statement to Deadline, Taylor-Johnson 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.”
This means Universal will need to find a new filmmaker to take over, after the first installment of the trilogy already has grossed more than a half-billion dollars at the worldwide box office. There is no word on a replacement helmer for Part II of the erotic romance series. Jamie Dornan will be back as billionaire Christian Grey, and Dakota Johnson will return as Anastasia Steele. Each is under option deals for the next films.
It’s no secret that Taylor-Johnson was on the fence about returning given clashes over creative controls held by James that were unprecedented for a first-time author. James used them to make sure the movie would please her book fans (100 million copies sold, after all), and Taylor-Johnson bristled over being creatively handcuffed, leading to speculation she wouldn’t return.
The movie adapted by Kelly Marcel was released over Valentine’s Day weekend and ended up performing well to warrant a sequel. It has grossed a total of $163M to date, pushing its worldwide box office take to $558M and cementing the studio’s franchise hopes. The bondage bonanza recently surpassed Ted and King Kong to become the studio’s eighth-highest-grossing film worldwide.