The adaptation of E.L. James’ erotic novel has grossed $558 million worldwide, with many crediting the film’s success to Taylor-Johnson’s arguable improvements over the source material and Dakota Johnson’s star-making performance. But Taylor-Johnson and James also made headlines for their fierce disagreements on set — a possible factor in the director’s departure from the franchise.
In a statement, Taylor-Johnson said, “Directing “Fifty Shades Of Grey” has been an intense and incredible journey for which I am hugely grateful. I have Universal to thank for that. I forged close and lasting relationships with the cast, producers and crew and most especially, with Dakota and Jamie [Dornan]. While I will not be returning to direct the sequels, I wish nothing but success to whosoever takes on the exciting challenges of films two and three.” Johnson and Dornan have signed on to star in the next two sequels.
Universal’s decision to bet on the female team of Taylor-Johnson as director and screenwriter Kelly Marcel (who will also not be returning) obviously paid off handsomely for the studio. Let’s hope its studio chief, Donna Langley, remembers that as she searches for Taylor-Johnson’s successor.