where next for sam taylor-johnson as she leaves fifty shades franchise

The British artist and director will not be returning to make the sequels.

by Colin Crummy
27 March 2015, 11:23am

Sam Taylor-Johnson will not be returning to direct the second in the Fifty Shades of Grey series. The British artist turned director said in a statement: "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."

The announcement, reported on Deadline.com first, had been widely expected after the director made no secret of the tussles between herself and the books' author, E.L. James during filming.

After selling over 100m copies of the S&M romance, E.L. James was in the rare position on-set to have the final say on every decision made. That left Taylor-Johnson is a power position akin to the submissive Anastasia in Fifty Shades.

The director admitted to the Hollywood Reporter that she often clashed with the writer, saying, "It was not easy. But we got there. I think both of us felt it was an incredibly painful process."

No mention was made in Taylor-Johnson's statement of E.L. James but she spoke of her friendship forged with the film's two leads Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson, who are signed up to do the second and third installments.

It leaves Taylor-Johnson in an interesting juncture in her up-to-now stellar career. A fine art photographer first, she was nominated for the Turner Prize in 1998 but made a splash in the wider public eye when she depicted David Beckham sleeping for a National Portrait Gallery commission in 2002.

Her art has frequently played with music, fashion and celebrity so her first feature film, Nowhere Boy, a young John Lennon biopic, made sense. She was more of a surprise choice for Fifty Shades - given that she's only made her debut film - but can take some of the credit for the film's enormous success. To date, it's made $558.5m at the box office.

That, and the fact that she's delivered a film from a compromised position, should see her in a strong place in Hollywood should she want to pursue similarly big budget movies. The question will be whether Taylor-Johnson was too burned by Fifty Shades to do that.


Text Colin Crummy
Photography Chuck Zlotnick

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