Less than one month after it was revealed that Sam Taylor-Johnson will not direct the Fifty Shades of Grey sequel, the follow-up film's scriptwriter has been announced—and E.L. James is keeping it in the family.
The Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy author has enlisted husband Niall Leonard to pen the script for the forthcoming film Fifty Shades Darker, which will once again star Jamie Dornan as Christian Grey and Dakota Johnson as Anastasia Steele.
"Niall is an outstanding writer in his own right, with multiple established credits, and we are lucky to have him join Team Fifty," producer Michael De Luca said in a statement to THR, which was first to report the news.
Leonard, who has two children with his wife of over 20 years, is already an established author and screenwriter, having written for various British TV shows including Air Force One Is Down and Wire in the Blood; he has also penned novels such as Crusher, Incinerator and Shredder.
Fifty Shades of Grey had an extremely successful box office debut on February 13, garnering a whopping $85 million over the three-day President's Day weekend.
In the wake of the movie's success, there have also been reports claiming Dornan and Johnson are asking for seven-figure raises, although producer Dana Brunetti previously told THR that he is hoping to keep the first film's $40 million budget the same for the sequel.
"That was the great thing about this film—we knew we were going to be able to make stars," he said. "Now it's their opportunity to get paid on other projects. It's been a breakout role for both of them. I'm sure they are getting tons of offers on other things."
Meanwhile, a new director for the sequel has yet to be announced following Sam Taylor-Johnson's exit. The English director announced last month that she was amicably parting way with the series (the news didn't come as much of a surprise considering she admitted to clashing with James during the making of the first film).
"Directing Fifty Shades of Grey has been an intense and incredible journey for which I am hugely grateful," Taylor-Johnson said in a statement. "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."
(E! Online and Universal Pictures are both members of the NBCUniversal family.)