By now, moviegoers likely know if they're onboard with the Fifty Shades of Grey franchise. Despite being savaged by critics (read our review), the core audience turned out for the film in droves, to the tune of a worldwide box office take totaling $570 million.
Accordingly, Universal is anxious to get the sequels -- based on the latter two books in author E.L. James' best-selling trilogy -- to theaters. Early indicators pointed to a delay for production on Fifty Shades Darker, but with those issues resolved, it looks like the studio is wasting no time in moving the franchise along.
According to The Wrap, both Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed will now be shot back-to-back by director James Foley (Glengarry Glen Ross, House of Cards). Stars Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson are both signed to return, likely with significant pay raises, for the sequels, with filming set to begin in early 2016. As previously reported, the movies' scripts will be written by author/screenwriter Niall Leonard, husband to James.
Given how much potential profit Universal has riding on these films, it stands to reason that the studio would opt to secure the same creative team for back-to-back productions rather than risk continual delays in between installments. After all, the loss of the first film's director, Sam Taylor-Johnson, was largely attributed to creative conflict with James during filming. So if Universal has compiled a group that can work well together, it makes smart business sense to finish the trilogy as soon as possible.
Moreover, the release dates for the films not only mirror the Valentine's Day weekend release of Fifty Shades of Grey but also serve as sharp effort in counter-programming, as the sequels are set to open opposite Warner Bros. animated films (like LEGO Batman in 2017). Back-to-back production doesn't really affect anything schedule-wise, since these release dates were announced previously.
What do you think of Universal's plan to film the Fifty Shades of Grey sequels back-to-back? Sound off with your thoughts in the comments section below.
Fifty Shades Darker is set to hit theaters on February 10th, 2017, followed by Fifty Shades Freed on February 9th, 2018.
Source: The Wrap