Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, and this year that means it’s time for E.L. James’ erotic romance novel Fifty Shades of Grey to wend its way into theaters and make audience members either melt into their seats, or wriggle their way out of them due to the sheer awkwardness of it all. Dakota Johnson plays Anastasia Steele, a shy and breathy-voiced English major who manages to woo secretive billionaire Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan), and enters into a strange new world of BDSM.

James’ modern-day bodice ripper has already broken sales records in the literary world and is expected to perform well at the box office as well, with early tracking pointing to a $45 million debut in North America. Since James’ novel has two sequels – Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed – it’s easy to guess that the box office projection means for the future.

Director Sam Taylor-Johnson announced to fans that Fifty Shades of Grey will be followed by two more movies during an advance screening last week. Although Universal Pictures has yet to release any further information about the sequels (such as release dates), this was definitely to be expected; Hollywood isn’t exactly known for its love of standalone films.

Universal could feasibly target a Valentine’s Day 2016 release for Fifty Shades Darker and a Valentine’s Day 2017 release for Fifty Shades Freed, which would make sense if the studio wants to follow the popular tradition of releasing each new franchise entry at around the same time each year. If that is the plan, then Fifty Shades Darker will likely begin filming quite soon.

It’s difficult to outline the plot of either of the upcoming sequels without spoiling the events of Fifty Shades of Grey, but Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed essentially continue the tangled love affair of Ms. Steele and Mr. Grey as they attempt to overcome jealousy, anger, and being shot at by various people. Love isn’t easy.

Despite this happy news for fans, the press tour for Fifty Shades of Grey has reportedly been a bit of a mixed bag, with talk of friction between the two leads (and not just chafing) and Taylor-Johnson openly admitting to on-set fights between herself and James over the creative direction of the film. “It was definitely not an easy process,” the director said. “But that doesn’t mean to say that it didn’t come out the right way.” After what sounds like a filmmaking experience that was a daily battle, it remains to be seen whether Taylor-Johnson will be up for the next couple of rounds.

Fifty Shades of Grey opens in U.S. theaters on February 13th, 2015.

Source: Sam Taylor-Johnson (via MTV)

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