In a surprise to virtually nobody, director Sam Taylor-Johnson announced that she was leaving the “Fifty Shades of Grey” franchise for good.
In an exclusive statement to Deadline, the director stated the following:
“Directing Fifty Shades Of Grey has been an intense and incredible journey for which I am hugely grateful, I have [studio] 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.”
The franchise has already experienced its fair share of criticism and behind-the-scenes woes.
The first film didn’t fare well with critics, garnering a total of 25% on the metacritic site, Rotten Tomatoes, with the majority of critics complaining about wooden performances, horrible dialogue and thin plotting — all things its literary counterpart has in common. The book series, which was originally conceived as Twilight fan fiction, is about a successful business magnate — and practicing sadomasochist — who draws the attention of a young college student, with whom he ends up having an affair. It was universally panned by the literary world, with no less of an authority than Sir Salman Rushdie declaring that it was “badly written” and made Twilight “look like War and Peace.”
The film adaptation was plagued by issues ranging from a lack of chemistry between the two leads (magnified by their uncomfortable and awkward television interviews) to battles between director Johnson and author E.L. James over creative control
The latter was confirmed when Johnson told Vanity Fair that her and James “battled all the way through,” with “tough times” and “sparring contests” and is thought to be the impetus behind Johnson’s departure.
But, despite its problems, the series has a dedicated, worldwide following. The books (which have been printed in 50 different languages) have sold well over 100 million copies while the recent film adaptation of the first book has grossed over $500 million dollars in both foreign and domestic markets.
The sequels will go on with or without Johnson.
Following the financial success of the first film in the series, Universal announced that the next two books will also see film adaptations with the next installment reportedly due in 2017.