It appears as though the folks behind the Fifty Shades of Grey franchise would rather not elongate the production period. The Wrap reports that the two sequels, Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed, will shoot back-to-back next year in one fell swoop. Moreover, Glengarry Glen Ross and House of Cards helmer James Foley, who entered talks to helm Darker earlier this year, has agreed to direct both movies.
You may remember that there was a teensy bit of on-set tension during the production of Fifty Shades of Grey between author E.L. James and director Sam Taylor-Johnson, as well as between the film’s stars Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson. Taylor-Johnson opted not to return and direct the follow-up after her experience on the first movie, but that wasn’t an option for Dornan or Johnson, who are both under contract as the faces of the franchise. However, by shooting both sequels back to back, everyone can essentially “get it over with”, assuming the rumors of discord between Dornan and Johnson are true.
Initially James wanted to pen the script for Fifty Shades Darker herself after wielding an unprecedented amount of creative control over the first movie. That didn’t happen, although Universal Pictures and producers Michael De Luca and Dana Brunetti handed scripting duties to James’ husband, author and screenwriter Niall Leonard, so it’s being kept all in the family so to speak. Leonard will script both Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed.
While critical reaction wasn’t kind, Fifty Shades of Grey actually showed, well, shades of a great film in there somewhere, one that had something to say about relationships between men and women, but it was overshadowed by the more salacious and fantastical aspects of James’ source material. Regardless, the movie went on to gross $570.4 million worldwide against a budget of just $40 million, so the sequels were always going to happen.
Fifty Shades Darker arrives in theaters on February 10, 2017 while Fifty Shades Freed will conclude the trilogy on February 9, 2018.