"Fifty Shades of Grey" author E.L. James and studio Universal didn't have to go far to find a screenwriter for the erotic drama's sequel. Niall Leonard, James' husband, has been enlisted to adapt "Fifty Shades Darker," the Los Angeles Times has confirmed.
Though Leonard is a screenwriter in his own right -- he is the author of the "Crusher" crime novels and has scripted British TV shows such as "Monarch of the Glen" and "Air Force One Is Down" -- the news was greeted with titters on social media. James famously exercised broad control on the first movie, locking horns with director Sam Taylor-Johnson, who is not returning for the sequel. The idea that someone so close to her, and with comparatively little Hollywood experience, would be hired for such a prominent gig landed awkwardly with many.
Kelly Marcel, who wrote the first film, is also not returning. The Hollywood Reporter first reported the Leonard news.
James, who became a publishing phenom with the wildly popular "Fifty Shades" trilogy, served as a producer on the first film, which starred Jamie Dornan as the kinky billionaire Christian Grey and Dakota Johnson as his mousy love interest, Anastasia Steele.
Though "Fifty Shades of Grey" was poorly reviewed and earned a weak C+ CinemaScore when it opened over Valentine's Day weekend, it went on to gross more than $568 million worldwide, on a modest $40-million budget.
Dornan and Johnson will return for the sequel, which does not currently have a director or release date.
In the wake of the first film's release, speculation swirled that James herself might adapt the sequel. That won't be the case, but they're still keeping it in the family.
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