This comes as no surprise after previous reports citing conflict between the Nowhere Boy director and the book’s author, E.L. James. James had unprecedented final cut over the movie and reportedly fought with Taylor-Johnson over the film’s content, particularly its accuracy in recreating the book. Taylor-Johnson released an exclusive statement to Deadline announcing her decision.
Directing ‘Fifty Shades Of Grey’ has been an intense and incredible journey for which I am hugely grateful. I have Universal to thank for that. I forged close and lasting relationships with the cast, producers and crew and most especially, with Dakota and Jamie. 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 statement glosses over the the problems Taylor-Johnson allegedly had while making the film, as James is not mentioned at all. Whatever issues were present, they had to be enough to discourage Taylor-Johnson away from each sequel’s financial promise. As of this writing, Fifty Shades of Grey has grossed $164 million domestically, and $558 million worldwide.
Now that Taylor-Johnson is off the project, Universal will have to find a replacement. Though it’s unclear whether James will have the same power over the subsequent films’ content, one has to assume that is indeed the case, as Taylor-Johnson would otherwise likely have stayed with the franchise. How that affects Universal’s search for a new director will be interesting to monitor. Taylor-Johnson doesn’t have any other projects announced at this time.