Author E.L. James was apparently not the most pleasant person to work with as Universal brought her acclaimed novel Fifty Shades of Grey to the big screen. Both screenwriter Kelly Marcel and director Sam Taylor-Johnson have bailed on the sequel, hinting that E.L. James was to blame for their departure. So this time out, E.L. James, who has a lot of creative control over the movies, has enlisted her own husband, Niall Leonard, to pen the sequel Fifty Shades Darker.
Niall Leonard, who has two sons with E.L. James, is an author himself and a British screenwriter. He has written for the TV series Air Force One Is Down and Wire in the Blood. Niall Leonard is also author of the Crusher book series, and worked as an uncredited screenplay polisher on the first Fifty Shades of Grey, which opened earlier this year and proved to be a bigger hit than expected. Said producer Michael De Luca in a statement to THR:
"Niall is an outstanding writer in his own right, with multiple established credits, and we are lucky to have him join Team Fifty."
E.L. James reportedly clashed with screenwriter Kelly Marcel and director Sam Taylor-Johnson over the ending of the original film. Something that is unlikely to happen here. Because of their departure, though, and the fact that stars Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan are both seeking pay raises, there hasn't been much movement on the Fifty Shades Darker sequel. The follow-up is indeed happening, though Universal has yet to issue an official green light for the project. The original pulled in a massive worldwide take of $568.8 million. It was earlier rumored that E.L. James wanted to write the screenplay herself. Though, she has no scripting experience. The hiring of her husband seems to be the happy compromise. Its not yet clear how much she will eventually influence his work. Fifty Shades Darker is currently scheduled for a 2017 release, but that won't be confirmed until a new director is in place.