Much like Christian in Fifty Shades of Grey, Universal Pictures needs to get a contract signed. Of course, in this case, the studio isn’t trying to lock down a submissive; it’s gunning for a director for sequel Fifty Shades Darker. After helming the first film, Sam Taylor-Johnson opted out of returning, leaving the next E.L. James adaptation director-less at the moment.
Fortunately for fans, Universal appears to be nearing the end of its search. Sources tell THR that producers have closed in on three finalists and will start the process of making an offer to Jamey Foley next week. Mark Pellington and Tanya Wexler are said to be the other two in consideration.
Related: Fifty Shades of Grey review
Whoever helms Fifty Shades Darker will explore the continuation of the BDSM-influenced relationship between billionaire Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan) and the much more innocent Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson) as she starts a new job and deals with some of his many ex-lovers. At the same time, the new director will likely have to cooperate with James, something that Taylor-Johnson said she struggled with while adapting the first book for film. On top of that, there are also fans of the series (and those who let their curiosity get the best of them) to keep happy.
If Foley does indeed direct Fifty Shades Darker, the film will add to a résumé that includes several episodes of Netflix’s House of Cards, Fear starring Mark Wahlberg and Reese Witherspoon, and Perfect Stranger, which starred Halle Berry and Bruce Willis. The sequel would definitely be a high-profile project. Say what you will about the books and movies, but the fact remains that Fifty Shades of Grey draws buzz. The first movie has become Universal’s highest-grossing R-rated film ever.
James’ husband, Niall Lenoard, will be writing the screenplay for Fifty Shades Darker after screenwriter Kelly Marcel also decided not to return for the sequel. James, Dana Brunetti, and Michael De Luca are set to produce.
Fifty Shades Darker will open in theaters on Feb. 10, 2017, while Fifty Shades Freed will follow on Feb. 9, 2018.