‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ Author Wants Total Control Over the Sequel’s Script
Things have been going pretty well for Fifty Shades of Grey, the film based on the first novel in E.L. James’ massively successful erotic trilogy. Not only is it the fastest-selling R-rated movie in history, but the film adaptation has been totally dominating the box office. Two sequels have already been announced, and following reports of creative issues on the set, the latest news surrounding the global phenomenon doesn’t seem particularly optimistic: James is reportedly demanding full control over the script for the sequel.
Variety reports that Universal is negotiating with James over total script control for the planned sequel, based on the second book in her trilogy, Fifty Shades Darker. If James is granted the power to adapt her own novel, the sequel will be delayed to allow her the time to do so, as this will be her first screenplay. As of now, it appears that neither screenwriter Kelly Marcel nor director Sam Taylor-Johnson will return for the sequel, as the project undergoes some “dramatic creative reshuffling.”
Recently, Vanity Fair published a profile of Taylor-Johnson, who was rather forthcoming about some of the creative issues on set. Although quite honest, Taylor-Johnson remained civil regarding the battles she had with James over the direction of the film — even still, many have openly criticized Taylor-Johnson for speaking negatively at all in regards James, with some accusing her of doing little to advance the progress of women in filmmaking. That seems awfully unfair — Taylor-Johnson’s experience seems fairly normal in regards to the issues that commonly arise on set, after all.
Further statements from Taylor-Johnson indicate that she has little to no desire to return for Fifty Shades sequels. Marcel and Taylor-Johnson took such poorly written source material and made a reasonably decent film, albeit one with a terrible ending — and if other reports are to be believed, James’ influence is responsible for that.
It seems ill-advised for Universal to give James total control over the script for the sequel, given that many critics and viewers have praised the film’s script as vastly superior to James’ writing. With the overwhelming financial success of the film, hopefully Universal will take time to consider their options — Fifty Shades of Grey may have largely succeeded at the box office due to an already rabid fan base, but do they want to rely on the devotion of established fans, or make the best film possible? Hiring mediocre talent to adapt their own mediocre work for a blockbuster franchise hardly seems like the right call here.