Following a report that director Sam Taylor-Johnson wants out of her "Fifty Shades of Grey" shackles comes word that author E.L. James wants more control over the film series moving forward.
James, who penned the best-selling trilogy on which the hit film is based, already wielded lots of power over the production of the first flick, scoring casting approval and working closely with filmmakers to give input on the movie. She and Taylor-Johnson reportedly got into numerous heated arguments on set, and the author demanded that the film be more faithful to the book than producers wanted.
Now, according to Variety, "James is seeking more control over the sequel by writing the script herself." But, the trade says, studio Universal Pictures is "resistant to the idea."
Production on sequel "Fifty Shades Darker" has stalled, Variety says, due to the studio's negotiations with James. Both Taylor-Johnson and screenwriter Kelly Marcel are doubtful to return, and that creative tumult has put the greenlight of the second film in the series in jeopardy, especially since production would have be delayed to allow for more time for James to pen a screenplay, a medium in which she has no prior experience.
Variety explains Universal's problem with James thusly:
It's rare in showbiz for an author to exercise the kind of oversight that James has had over the bigscreen journey of "Fifty Shades." James didn't peddle the movie rights until her books were already a worldwide phenomenon, and every studio in town wanted to adapt the trilogy, which gave her considerable bargaining power. As a result, she was able to negotiate a deal with Universal and Focus Features that gave her control over how Christian and Anastasia would appear in the film. Not only does she exercise casting approval - she first met Jamie Dornan, who plays Christian, at his audition in Los Angeles (and was a fan of his work on the BBC TV series "The Fall") - she's also credited as a producer on the first movie.
James was very involved in all aspects of the "Fifty Shades" film, as she attended creative meetings to make sure that the film didn't veer too far from her book. According to sources, James, who has no prior film experience, would at times hold up the creative process by offering input that wasn't in line with the filmmakers' vision. But given James' contract with Universal, the director and other producers on the film couldn't go around her.
It's unclear how that contract could affect James's alleged demand to pen the "Darker" screenplay herself, but so far, Universal has declined to speculate publicly about the possibility.
"The studio had always intended to sit down with the author after the film opened and discuss next steps and that has not yet happened," a Universal spokesman told Variety.
Stay tuned to see how this latest "Fifty Shades" drama plays out.
Photo credit: AFP/Getty Images