Following a whole lot of kerfuffle over when Fifty Shades Darker was ever going to start going into production, fans finally received some news on that front when James Foley, known for House of Cards and Glengarry Glen Ross, was officially confirmed to be directing.
"Because Foley has a proven track record for getting performances out of his casts, he seems a good choice here. Both Johnson and Dornan are relative newcomers playing roles that are far from easy." - Mike Fleming Jr.
Foley's appointment has been met with a mainly positive reception, though Forbes criticised the choice to cast a male director in the wake of Sam Taylor-Johnson's departure from the franchise.
Why Has It Taken So Long?
It's been well documented that reports from behind the scenes of the first film is that the whole thing was a production nightmare, with E.L. James using her unprecedented measure of creative control to run roughshod over Taylor-Johnson and the other executives, arguing with them over the tiniest changes of details.
Now, there is absolutely nothing wrong with allowing authors to retain creative control over their product. In fact there's a big problem with studios and secondary authors being given total control over something that they didn't come up with, often leading to the original vision being ruined or lost (I'm looking at you Fox, ruining the Fantastic Four. Shame shame shame).
However; film-making and fanfiction, I'm sorry - novel writing, are very different media and so you've kinda got to take at least a little bit of a step back when allowing an experienced director to adapt your source material.
Anyway, the whole thing was apparently such a mess that Taylor-Johnson declined to return to the sequel and they had a bit of difficulty pinning down another director. Additionally James' husband, Niall Leonard, will be writing the screenplay so - good luck James Foley I guess?
Give Those Folk A Pay Raise For Christsakes
Even back in March before all the director palava started going on, stars Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson had reportedly been asking for a pay increase for the sequel. According to production insiders they were paid $250,000 respectively (plus box office bonuses) for the first film and they're now negotiating for a 7-figure sum as part of their 3-film contract. However Movieweb has reported that producer Dana Brunetti isn't too thrilled about giving the actors the demanded pay raise.
I mean, $250,000 is a hell of a lot of money right? More than any of us will probably ever see. Why should they get a pay raise?
Well, because Fifty Shades of Grey grossed approximately $569 million.
Holy shit, yes. Give them a goddamn mother-flipping pay raise. They might not be the 'creative' force behind the franchise, but they are the stars of it. They're the faces of Anastasia and Grey and also the ones risking being typecast and having their careers - and marriages if you believe the gossip - affected by their somewhat controversial roles. (I term this the Twilight dilemma.)
It's a big jump sure but, look at Jennifer Lawrence, she went from $500,000 for The Hunger Games to $10 million for [The Hunger Games: Catching Fire](tag:303520) (which yes, did gross a hell of a lot more than Fifty Shades of Grey, but I'm not suggesting that Dornan and Johnson get anywhere near that much of an increase).
There's also been some chatter around Fifty Shades Darker being filmed with back-to-back production in order to save time and money, Showbiz 411 citing "budget constraints" for this possibility. Hah.
Anyway, production should be getting underway sometime early next year now that the director has been locked down and the salary negotiations hopefully put to bed, so hold onto your whips and whatever.
Fifty Shades Darker is due to be released Feb 10th 2017 with Fifty Shades Freed landing on Feb 9th 2018.