When last we heard from the Fifty Shades movie-verse, EL James’s husband, Niall Leonard, had signed on to write the script for the sequel to Fifty Shades of Grey, Fifty Shades Darker. Now we have an update—the search for a director is down to the negotiations stage, with James Foley emerging as the frontrunner. Other directors under consideration are Rebecca Thomas, who will direct John Greene adaptation Looking for Alaska, Mark Pellington, director of Pearl Jam’s “Jeremy” music video—SHUT UP THAT IS A MAJOR ACHIEVEMENT—and Tanya Wexler, who directed Maggie Gyllenhaal’s Victorian sex comedy, Hysteria. Foley is a good director, known best for the film version of Glengarry Glen Ross, and more recently for work on House of Cards. He also directed Madonna’s “Papa Don’t Preach” video—ALSO A MAJOR ACHIEVEMENT.
Deadline reports that Foley has the edge, which makes sense. He’s an actor’s director—he directed Fear, which turned Marky Mark Wahlberg into a real actor (Lainey: and features that amazing scene in which Marky Mark fingerbangs Reese Witherspoon on a roller coaster!) —but it probably doesn’t hurt that House of Cards shares a producer with Fifty Shades, Dana Brunetti. Whether or not Foley—OR ANYONE—can work with EL James is one matter, but at least Brunetti knows he can work with Foley. It would be nice if the movie was directed by a woman, just because more movies should be but also because the best stuff in Grey came from a woman’s perspective on Anastasia Steele’s trip into Sexual Wonderland. We’ll probably get better performances from Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan under Foley’s direction, but will likely lose those subversive touches that Sam Taylor-Johnson brought out.
Also, if Foley does indeed lock down the directing gig, the creative team for the sequel is now predominately male. Grey had a female team behind it, with James, Taylor-Johnson, and screenwriter Kelly Marcel. But Taylor-Johnson and Marcel declined to return for Darker, with conflict with James being blamed for their departure. I hate how this looks. I hate that it looks like “women can’t get along” and all that reductive bullsh*t. Fifty Shades started out as entertainment made by women, for women, about women, but it’s turning into any other studio franchise project, with the same kind of kindergarten playground politics driving it.
Attached - Dakota Johnson at The Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s Grants Banquet last week.