Shortly after the release of Universal Pictures' blockbuster Fifty Shades of Grey, it was confirmed that director Sam Taylor-Johnson will not come back to make the movie sequel, Fifty Shades Darker. One month later, it was revealed that author E.L. James' husband, Niall Leonard, will write the screenplay adaptation, with the studio setting a February 10, 2017 release date. Today we have word from Deadline that filmmaker James Foley is the front runner to direct this hotly-anticipated follow-up.

This report also reveals that he may also sign on to direct the third installment, Fifty Shades Freed, which has been given a February 9, 2018 release date. The studio is still working out whether or not they should shoot both Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed back-to-back. Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan are coming back to reprise their roles as Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey.

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Negotiations haven't started yet for James Foley to take the helm, but the studio plans on starting talks soon. Universal was also considering filmmakers such as Rebecca Thomas (Electrick Children), Mark Pellington (I Melt with You) and Tanya Wexler (Hysteria) for the directorial gig. It isn't known when production may begin on the sequel, but it surely will be an important project for the studio.

Fifty Shades of Grey took in a whopping $569 million worldwide during its theatrical release this year, with the adaptation costing just $40 million to make. Supporting cast members such as Luke Grimes, Jennifer Ehle, Eloise Mumford, Rita Ora, Marcia Gay Harden, Max Martini and Victor Rasuk are expected to return, but none of these actors have been confirmed quite yet. Michael De Luca and Dana Brunetti will return to produce along with author E.L. James. The author recently released a new Fifty Shades book, told from Christian Grey's point of view, but no movie adaptation is being planned yet.

James Foley hasn't directed a feature since the 2007 thriller Perfect Stranger, but he has been keeping busy on the TV side, directing several episodes of House of Cards, which Dana Brunetti produces. He has also recently directed episodes of Wayward Pines and Hannibal. On the feature side, the filmmaker is best known for At Close Range, Glengarry Glen Ross, Fear and The Chamber.