Put away your whips and floggers “Fifty Shades” fans, rumor has it the sequel to the romance blockbuster won’t hit theaters until 2017. While a big-screen adaptation for the second installment in author E.L. James’ best-selling series, "Fifty Shades Darker," is already reportedly underway, it may be awhile before fans get to see the story brought to life.
According to the Hollywood Reporter, the film’s stars Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan have been told to “plan for an early 2016 shoot.” The film will potentially hit theaters around Valentine’s Day 2017. The delay is reportedly due to Universal’s need for a new director -- Sam Taylor-Johnson is speculated to be parting ways with the franchise -- and a new screenwriter. Recent reports say James is vying for the chance to pen the second film’s script.
The release date rumors come on the heels of speculation that the film was scheduled to begin shooting in Vancouver in June. Following a fan screening in New York last month -- in which Johnson, Dornan, James and Taylor-Johnson were in attendance -- attendees claimed there was some buzz that the sequel would be released in March 2016.
Despite rumors of a far-off release date, fans can breathe easy knowing that Johnson, who portrays lead Anastasia "Ana" Steele in the film, and her counterpart Dornan, who plays BDSM-practicing billionaire Christian Grey, will likely reprise their roles. However, with their return also comes their desire for a raise.
After garnering over $500 million at the worldwide box office for “Fifty Shades of Grey," the two actors are said to be looking for a bump in their salaries. Insiders say Jennifer Lawrence’s salary for the “Hunger Games” films are being used as an example. (Lawrence earned $10 million for “Catching Fire” compared to $500,000 for the original “Hunger Games” film.) The actors' salary negotiations are expected to take place within the next six months.
So how much are the on-screen Ms. Steele and Mr. Grey looking to acquire from Universal Pictures? Rumor has it they’re hoping for “seven-figure raises” for “Darker” and “Fifty Shades Freed,” the third and final novel in James' series. The stars originally had a “very basic franchise starter deal,” earning $250,000 for the first film, one insider told the Hollywood Reporter. However, the actors did sign a three-film deal that also included box office bonuses.
“Fifty Shades” producer Dana Brunetti recently shared that he wants to keep the expenses for “Darker” in check and not squander the film’s entire budget on fattening its stars' paychecks. “That was the great thing about this film -- we know we were going to be able to make stars,” Brunetti said. “Now, it’s their opportunity to get paid on other projects.”
Fans looking to get their “Darker” fix now can check out a deleted “Darker”-inspired skit from Johnson’s Feb. 28 “Saturday Night Live” appearance here.