It has been officially confirmed that Fifty Shades of Grey director Sam Taylor-Johnson will not be re-igniting her love affair with the franchise and will not be directing the second installment of E.L James' saucy book series.
"It has been an incredible journey for which I am hugely grateful"
Speaking of her gratitude to Universal for giving her the opportunity of spear-heading such a colossal project, she has also lovingly thanked the wonderful cast. She said:
"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.”
With her at the helm, Fifty Shades smashed almost $560m at the box office and was a wild success all over the world. Her contribution to the project was paramount and without her, the sexy love story would certainly not be what it turned out to be.
Relive the phenomenal sextravaganza that was the movie with the following trailer:
Why is Taylor-Johnson leaving?
According to sources, a large measure of creative differences caused an awkward rift between the director and the series's author.
In particular, trouble resulted from her treatment of the sex scenes. Speaking to Variety, Taylor-Johnson said:
“On the early draft, there was a sense there was way too much sex [...] The story, of course, is of equal importance. We tried to balance the narrative correctly, so one doesn’t feel like it’s drowning the other.”
This was merely one example of the tug-of-war between the director and E. L. James over the story's interpretation. While Taylor-Johnson had her own ideas about how to shoot the film, the author held an unusual amount of sway in the decisions made. Speaking of the experience, the director once admitted of James:
"I kept trying to remind myself that they hired me for a reason. Some people said to me, 'I'm surprised you haven't quit.' I was like, 'Why would you think I'd quit?' I never quit anything. Not without a fight [...] We battled all the way through. She'd say the same. There were tough times and revelatory times. There were sparring contests. It was definitely not an easy process."
Earlier in January, Taylor-Johnson also said:
"We would have proper on-set ‘barneys’, and I’m not confrontational, but it was about finding a way between the two of us, satisfying her vision of what she’d written as well as my need to visualize this person on screen."
Was a powerful clash of egos the reason for Taylor-Johnson leaving the project?
Although it is unclear how far the beef between the two creative minds extended, an irreversible decision has now been made that Taylor-Johnson is leaving the project. It's done and there is nothing more to it.
Who should direct the sadomasochistic love story?
Since the announcement, speculation has begun brewing on who should helm the next installment, although currently there is no word on a potential replacement. While we already know that Jamie Dornan will be back as the formidable Mr. Grey and Dakota Johnson is to reprise the role of Anastasia Steele once again, we can only wait and see who will fill Taylor-Johnson's shoes to guide them.
Now, because I love a good speculation, here are my top three picks of who I think would do a fantastic job:
1. Kathryn Bigelow
As the first female to ever win an Oscar for Best Director, Kathryn Bigelow would be the perfect choice to front the project. In the Hollywood world, where most major movies are almost always directed by men, she would lend an essential female perspective to the love story. Watch the trailer for the gripping and brilliantly crafted Zero Dark Thirty right here:
What has she previously directed? Point Break, The Hurt Locker, Zero Dark Thirty
2. Lars von Trier
The Danish film director's most recent release was the two part art film, Nymphomaniac, which follows the eventful story of a sex-obsessed self-diagnosed woman. A mega-hyped sex drama just like Fifty Shades, the movie also contains a fair dose of explicit material and BDSM.
Due to this, I think that Lars von Trier would be a fantastic contender for the director role. And his provocative and visually distinctive style would suit the enigmatic vibe of the franchise incredibly well. Take a look at the explicit and very controversial Nymphomaniac trailer and see for yourself:
What has he previously directed? Dancer in the Dark, Dogville, Melancholia
3. Kenneth Branagh
Kenneth Branagh has recently directed one of the most magical fairy tales that has ever existed, Cinderella. Rising to the challenge of Disney's eye-popping spectacle, he delivered on every single front, allowing us to feast our eyes on the traditional romanticism and old-fashioned magic that we all eagerly yearned for. Relive the enchanting story in the movie trailer below:
He would do us proud directing Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson and I think his experience with traditional love-stories combined with the risque Fifty Shades would smash global box offices.
What else has he previously directed? Henry V, Valkyrie, Thor