Fifty Shades of Grey, the best-selling erotica novel turned film, experienced box office success despite a rocky road to the screen. Disagreements between author E.L. James and director Sam Taylor-Johnson arose through the adaptation process about how the story should be brought to life. As a result, the feature was an awkward mix of elements from the book and interesting filmmaking choices.
However, prior to the Valentine's Day release of Fifty Shades of Grey, Taylor-Johnson revealed sequels were in development that will follow the other two novels in James' trilogy: Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed. Now, Universal Studios has announced release dates for those films.
At the studio's CinemaCon panel this week, Universal revealed upcoming release dates for two of its bigger franchises, Fast and Furious and Fifty Shades of Grey. The studio debuted a teaser for the Fifty Shades franchise (above) along with the dates. Fifty Shades Darker will premiere February 10th, 2017, with Fifty Shades Freed following a year later on February 9th, 2018.
Shortly after Fifty Shades of Grey debuted in theaters and the sequels were said to be in production, James met with Universal about attaining even more creative control over the followup films than she previously had (which was already much more than is usual) and possibly writing the script for Fifty Shades Darker. It has since been announced that James’ husband Niall Leonard will pen the script instead. Still, the director’s chair remains open on the sequel as Taylor-Johnson will not return to direct.
The two-year wait between Fifty Shades of Grey and its sequel is likely due to these renegotiations between James and Universal - as well as those between the studio and the franchise’s stars, Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson, who were seeking a pay increase. However, it now seems that Universal and everyone involved are ready to move forward in production on the sequels, which are set to begin filming early next year.
As for the release dates, Universal seems to be setting up Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed as the Valentine’s Day films of both 2017 and 2018, just as Fifty Shades of Grey was this year. Given the success of the feature in its February slot - Fifty Shades of Grey grossed more than half a billion dollars worldwide - it seems Universal is attempting to find similar success (and box office returns) with the sequels.
Fifty Shades Darker will debut in theaters February 10th, 2017; Fifty Shades Freed will premiere a year later February 9th, 2018.
Source: Universal Studios