Fifty Shades of Grey director Sam Taylor-Johnson has officially split from the barely-BDSM franchise, and will not return to direct the sequels starring Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan. This is expected news. Taylor-Johnson famously clashed with series creator E.L. James during production on the first film, and given the conditions James laid out in her contract, the author had the literal last word on the film. Further, James recently demanded to pen the script for the sequel, Fifty Shades Darker, which I imagine definitively squashed any desire Taylor-Johnson may have had to direct the sequel after her experience on the first film. Given the notorious conflict between the creators, today’s news comes as a confirmation of what many have long-speculated.
Taylor-Johnson commented on her departure to Deadline,
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. 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.
The first film was a huge hit, though critically panned, with many detractors pointing to a lack of chemistry between the stars and an unbalanced vision throughout the film. The latter of which no doubt stemmed from, at least in part, the conflict between James and Taylor-Johnson. As I mentioned on the Collider Podcast a few weeks ago, it seems like Taylor-Johnson intended to portray Christian Grey in a less-than-honorable light and was probably stopped in her tracks. It led to a pretty disturbing representation of a highly toxic and mentally abusive relationship.
Taylor Johnson’s official departure from the project opens up the question of who will take the helm of the next films. Hopefully, for fans of the series, the next director hired will envision the story more closely to what James intended. After the studio’s experience with the first film, I have no doubt they’ll be sure to hire someone who does. Who would you like to see at the helm of the next pictures? Will you be watching the next films? Sound off below.