Director Sam Taylor-Johnson has announced her decision to step away from the helm of the Fifty Shades of Grey franchise following the success of the first film.

Sam Taylor-Johnson Quits ’50 Shades’

Taylor-Johnson announced her decision in a statement released Wednesday night.

“Directing Fifty Shades of Grey has been an intense and incredible journey for which I am hugely grateful,” Taylor-Johnson told Deadline. “I have Universal to thank for that. I forged close and lasting relationships with the cast, producers and crew and most especially, with Dakota [Johnson] and Jamie [Dornan]. 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.”

Rumors began to swirl that the first Fifty Shades of Grey film, which earned more that $558 million at the worldwide box office, would be Taylor-Johnson’s last leading up to the film’s release. The director, who reportedly had numerous differences of opinion with writer E.L. James during production, didn’t shy away from discussing the difficulties of getting the movie made.

“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,‘” Taylor-Johnson admitted  to Vanity Fair. “I was like, ‘Why would you think I’d quit?’ I never quit anything. Not without a fight.”

“There were tough times and revelatory times,” Taylor-Johnson added. “There were sparring contests. It was definitely not an easy process, but that doesn’t mean to say that it didn’t come out the right way.”

It’s reportedly possible that James, who wanted more input on the adaptation of her erotic romance novels for the big screen, could sign on as the screenwriter for the sequel – Fifty Shades Darker. Kelly Marcel, who wrote the screenplay for Fifty Shades of Grey, like Taylor-Johnson, is not interested in continuing work on the franchise, reported Variety.

Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson are both expected to reprise their roles of Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele throughout the duration of the franchise.

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