James Foley has been officially offered the job to direct the “Fifty Shades of Grey” sequel after news broke two weeks ago that he was Universal’s top choice for the project.
Deadline Hollywood first reported that Foley was a front-runner for “Fifty Shades Darker” and sources now tell Variety that negotiations are expected to start shortly. Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson are attached to reprise their roles, with author E.L. James, Michael De Luca and Dana Brunetti producing. James’ husband, Niall Leonard, penned the script.
Execs had been meeting with directors over the past several months since Sam Taylor-Johnson, who directed the first film in the trilogy, announced that she would not be returning to helm.
Production will begin in the first quarter of 2016, with the film set to bow on Feb. 14, 2017. Casting should get under way once Foley’s deal is worked out.
Foley directed several stylish dramas in the 1980s and ’90s, including “After Dark, My Sweet,” “At Close Range,” “Fear” and “Glengarry Glen Ross.” His first film was the 1984 romance “Reckless,” which starred Daryl Hannah and Aidan Quinn as lovers from opposite backgrounds. He most recently worked on Netflix’s “House of Cards.”
Foley is repped by UTA and Agence 3a.
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#FiftyShadesDarker begins filming in Vancouver February. They have booked North Shore Studios again. @olv #yvrshoots— Lindsay B (@lemon_buzz) September 1, 2015
Possible Directors for "Fifty Shades Darker"
From The Hollywood Reporter:
Universal is close to getting into bed with a new director for the Fifty Shades of Grey sequel.
After Sam Taylor-Johnson chose not to return to helm the sequel, Universal and author EL James began searching for a new director. Sources tell THR that there are three finalists for the gig: James Foley, Mark Pellington and Tanya Wexler.
There's no offer yet, but sources say producers will start the process early next week. Foley looks to be the frontrunner for the gig.
The sequel, which sees the return of stars Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan, centers on Anastasia's relationship with billionaire Christian Grey, who brought her into his world of S&M in the first novel. Ana starts a new job, and at the same time she's faced with dealing with many of Christian's former flames.
There's been quite a bit of controversy surrounding the director gig for this franchise. Before the release of the first movie, Taylor-Johnson was vocal about the struggles she faced when dealing with James, who was very involved and opinionated when it came to the adaptation of her book.
James, Dana Brunetti and Michael De Luca are producing the sequel.
The four contenders are a varied mix when it comes to their prior experience.
Foley has directed a dozen episodes of Netflix's hit series House of Cards. His film credits include 1992’s Glengarry Glen Ross, the 1996 dark thriller Fear starring Mark Wahlberg and Reese Witherspoon and 2007’s Perfect Stranger with Halle Berry and Bruce Willis. He's repped by UTA.
Pellington director 1999's Arlington Road, starring Jeff Bridges and Tim Robbins. He's also worked with a slew of bands on short films, docs and music videos, and directed 2007's U2 3D. He's repped by UTA and 3 Arts Entertainment.
Wexler, the only female director still in the running, directed the 2011 film Hysteria, starring Maggie Gyllenhaal and Hugh Dancy. The film, set in the Victorian era, explored how medical research on hysteria led to vibrator being invented. She's repped by WME and Circle of Confusion.
Also not returning for the sequel is screenwriter Kelly Marcel. Instead, Niall Leonard, who is married to British author James, is writing the screenplay for Fifty Shades Darker, as The Hollywood Reporter exclusively revealed.
Fifty Shades Darker will hit theaters on Feb. 10, 2017, and the third film in the series, Fifty Shades Freed, will debut Feb. 9, 2018.
The first film that adapted James' popular bondage-themed book series was a box office smash after it opened in February. Fifty Shades of Grey has earned $570 million worldwide.