With Sam Taylor-Johnson reportedly wanting out of directing the upcoming sequels, is author E.L. James set to write the screenplays?
Fifty Shades of Grey might be continuing its domination of the box office this weekend, but it seems that announcing the film’s sequels has become a much trickier business for studio Universal.
Earlier this week, The Sun reported that director Sam Taylor-Johnson had pulled out of doing any more Fifty Shades movies, due to her tempestuous relationship with the book's author E.L. James. But while reports of Taylor-Johnson’s departure remains unconfirmed, Variety now writes that the author is gearing up to pen the screenplay for sequel Fifty Shades Darker herself.
Reports of tension between director Taylor-Johnson and writer James have been circulating for weeks, with some suggesting the author had threatened to withdraw her support for the movie, unless the script retained her original dialogue.
Screenwriter Kelly Marcel was responsible for adapting James’ original novel for the big screen, but she reportedly fell out with the author during the scripting process. Award-winning playwright Patrick Marber, who was brought in to rewrite the script, also reportedly found his dialogue removed, after James vetoed his edits.
The key is that author James is in a unique situation with the film adaptations, as she reportedly maintains full control over her properties as a result of a deal struck when the studio bought the rights to the Fifty Shades series. The deal is something which Hollywood studios aren't accustomed too, with neither JK Rowling or Stephanie Meyer been given such control over the movie adaptations of their work.
Now Variety reports that according to insiders, the delay in the production of Fifty Shades Darker is related to the fact that Universal execs and James are still arguing over details. ‘Unlike most successful franchises, which aim to retain the team behind the first film, it appears that Fifty Shades will undergo a dramatic creative reshuffling in the weeks to come,’ writes Variety.
Sam Taylor-Johnson and husband actor Aaron Taylor-Johnson
‘Sources close to the project don’t expect director Sam Taylor-Johnson or screenwriter Kelly Marcel to be back for the second instalment, though reps for the studio say no official decisions have been made,’ the site continues.
However a spokesperson for Universal told Variety, “The studio had always intended to sit down with the author after the film opened and discuss next steps, and that has not yet happened.”
Taylor-Johnson has previously spoken of the problems she had with James during production, telling Variety in January, “We disagreed a lot.”
“She created these characters and the story. I was trying to create a film experience that would honour the book but at the same time give us a fresh perspective. That was difficult for her. We’d battle things out. I think you could say we crossed every scenario through our battles.”
The real bad news for Fifty Shades fans is that because of the problems, production on Fifty Shades Darker probably won’t get under way until the first quarter of 2016. Meaning fans may have to wait until late 2016 or the first quarter of 2017 for the sequel.
Sadly it seems Valentines Day 2016 is looking more and more likely to be a Fifty Shades-less holiday.