Back in August, we reported that Universal Pictures' front runner to direct the Fifty Shades of Grey sequel, Fifty Shades Darker, is James Foley, but negotiations hadn't started quite yet. That report also revealed that the filmmaker is in the running to direct the third adaptation of E.L. James' novel trilogy, Fifty Shades Freed, and that the studio was trying to decide whether or not they should shoot Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed back-to-back. Today, we have a new report from The Wrap, revealing that James Foley has finalized his deal to direct both sequels, which will in fact be shot back-to-back.
Author E.L. James' husband, British writer Niall Leonard, signed on in April to write the screenplay adaptation for Fifty Shades Darker. This new report reveals that he has also signed on to write Fifty Shades Freed. Fifty Shades of Grey director Sam Taylor-Johnson and writer Kelly Marcel revealed shortly after the first movie's release that they were not coming back for the sequels. There were reports that the filmmaker and writer often clashed with author E.L. James, who reportedly has a lot of creative control over the adaptations.
Universal has already set release dates for both projects, with Fifty Shades Darker arriving on February 10, 2017, and Fifty Shades Freed arriving on February 9, 2018. Fifty Shades Darker will go up against 20th Century Fox's The Mountain Between Us and Warner Bros.' The LEGO Batman Movie in February 2017. Fifty Shades Freed is going up against an untitled Warner Bros. animation project on February 9, 2018, and it also opens one week before Black Panther on February 16, 2018.
Fifty Shades of Grey followed the illicit affair struck up by young billionaire Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan), and naive college student Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson). Both stars are slated to reprise their roles, but it isn't clear which supporting cast members will be back. Luke Grimes, Jennifer Ehle, Eloise Mumford, Rita Ora, Marcia Gay Harden, Max Martini, Rachel Skarsten and Victor Rasuk rounded out the cast of the original blockbuster.
Fifty Shades of Grey earned $166.1 million domestically and $570.4 million worldwide during its box office run. The original adaptation was produced on just a $40 million budget, although it isn't clear if the budget will be significantly increased for the sequels. James Foley hasn't directed a feature since the 2007 thriller Perfect Stranger, but he has been working on the small screen, directing several episodes of House of Cards, Wayward Pines and Hannibal. On the feature side, the filmmaker is best known for At Close Range, Glengarry Glen Ross, Fear and The Chamber.