Sam Taylor-Johnson has exited the grey area. The director of the erotic drama "Fifty Shades of Grey" will not be returning to helm the sequel, "Fifty Shades Darker," The Times has confirmed.
Starring Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson, the big-screen adaptation of the first of E.L. James' popular trio of novels about a kinky billionaire and a mousy college student was a box office hit, grossing $558 million worldwide since its release Valentine's Day weekend.
But Universal Pictures will now look to a new creative team for the follow-up film, which does not have a release date yet. "Fifty Shades of Grey" screenwriter Kelly Marcel is not expected to reprise her duties.
"Directing 'Fifty Shades of Grey' has been an intense and incredible journey for which I am hugely grateful," Taylor-Johnson said in a statement. "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."
Although the English filmmaker, 48, did not give a reason for departing the franchise, it has been widely reported that she and James, who was also a producer on "Grey," butted heads while making the first movie.
Ahead of the film's release, Taylor-Johnson acknowledged to The Times that she had some heated discussions with James, who had approval over the screenplay, cast and wardrobe. It is perhaps not a coincidence that Taylor-Johnson's statement doesn't mention the author by name.
Taylor-Johnson isn't the only director to part ways with a franchise after a successful launch. Other examples in recent years include Catherine Hardwicke of "Twilight" and Gary Ross of "The Hunger Games."
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