The “Fifty Shades Of Grey” sequel needs a new director, as Sam Taylor-Johnson announced her departure from the franchise late Wednesday night.
“Directing ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ has been an intense and incredible journey for which I am hugely grateful,” Taylor-Johnson said in a statement to Deadline.com. “I have Universal to thank for that. I forged close and lasting relationships with the cast, producers and crew and most especially, with Dakota [Johnson] and Jamie [Dornan]. 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.”
Notably absent by name in Taylor-Johnson’s note is E.L. James. The “Fifty Shades of Grey” author clashed with Taylor-Johnson during production, a battle that was detailed throughout the film’s press tour earlier this year.
“I kept trying to remind myself that they hired me for a reason. Some people said to me, ‘I’m surprised you haven’t quit,'” Taylor-Johnson said to Vanity Fair. “I was like, ‘Why would you think I’d quit?’ I never quit anything. Not without a fight.”
In that same piece, Taylor-Johnson said she and James “battled all the way through.”
“There were tough times and revelatory times,” Taylor-Johnson said. “There were sparring contests. It was definitely not an easy process, but that doesn’t mean to say that it didn’t come out the right way.”
Audiences would likely agree with that assessment: “Fifty Shades of Grey” has grossed more than $558 million at the worldwide box office. But despite the film being a success, Taylor-Johnson’s departure from the franchise seemed inevitable. In an interview with HuffPost Live, Taylor-Johnson said she had not even heard from James about the film.
“I think we will get to the end of this — we’ve been moving at such a pace — [that] hopefully when we get to the end of this, that will happen,” she said of a possible conversation.
According to Variety, “Fifty Shades of Grey” screenwriter Kelly Marcel is also making an exit from the sequel, “Fifty Shades Darker.” Per the trade site, James herself could be brought on to write the screenplay adaptation of her own novel.