Adapted from the first installment of E.L. James’ remarkably popular trilogy of erotic novels, Fifty Shades of Grey grossed more than $570 million at the global box office when it debuted last February. The story of the sordid romance that develops between college grad Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson) and kinky entrepreneur Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan), the film brought BDSM to the big screen in a way unlike anything multiplex audiences had seen before. Today, the studio announced that James Foley (Glengarry Glen Ross) will be directing both of its sequels.
Universal’s plans for the future of the franchise were put on hold after the original Grey‘s screenwriter Kelly Marcel and director Sam Taylor-Johnson both departed the series due to creative differences, while Johnson and Dornan negotiated for a raise. Today’s news ends a period of rabid speculation that began in May when the studio announced release dates for Fifty Shades Darker (February 10, 2017) and Fifty Shades Freed (February 9, 2018) with no director in place. (James’ husband Niall Leonard had signed on to write both scripts back in April.) Although Foley has directed episodes of shows like House of Cards and Hannibal, these films will be his first features since the 2007 Halle Berry vehicle, Perfect Stranger.