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Thursday, February 19, 2015

EL James wants full control of Fifty Shades sequels

I personally, and surprisingly, enjoyed Fifty Shades of Grey but I credit a big part of that to one thing: EL James didn't have complete control.

Apparently the British author is trying to up the ante with the studios and is now demanding complete creative control over the sort of confirmed Fifty Shades sequels. James' level of involvement with Fifty Shades of Grey became rather well-known as insiders blabbed to the tabloids about on-set fights between her and director Sam Taylor-Johnson. The rift and overbearing control over the source material even caused issues with the actors at one point.
Confirmation of the sequels was originally thought to be official, but since the release we haven't gotten any confirmation from Universal and the actors have made it clear via talk shows and magazine articles that sequels aren't official just yet, but they would love to return as the characters for more films. Insiders are assuming that two people won't be back, especially if full control is given to James, and that is Sam Taylor-Johnson and screenwriter Kelly Marcel. Marcel and James evidently had a falling out while writing the original draft of the screenplay that spawned a rewrite because the original draft James assisted with was horrible. This is no surprise seeing how horribly written the books were.

Now... unless this is all in the contract that was written when Universal purchased the film rights, there is no reason why EL James has to be involved at all. This has to be somewhat true because Universal is reluctant to give her full control for a couple reasons:
  1. She is unfamiliar with Hollywood and how film adaptations of books work.  (obviously)
  2. She has never written a screenplay by herself. 
  3. She only has three writing credits to her name (aka, the Fifty Shades trilogy) and they are all within the last four years. Not to mention the trilogy spawned from poorly written Twilight fan-fiction she posted online.

Insiders are claiming that the reason the sequels haven't been officially announced by Universal is because they are fighting with EL James and it's holding up production. That is why the actors are having to beat around the bush when people ask them about sequels and that is most likely why Sam Taylor-Johnson went from saying on The Today Show she had signed onto the sequels to not saying anything at all. Come the day that things get squared away, if and when, production likely won't start until 2016 which would delay the sequels by at least a year. This is not smart because despite what it may seem like now, the fandom and mania will die down and people will lose interest. With franchises like these it is in the best interest to release a film every year. I assumed Fifty Shades Darker would hit in 2016 and Fifty Shades Freed would in 2017, but if they can't get past EL James and her demands that isn't going to happen.
This also puts the actors in a bind which is something I don't think they realize. Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan are on everyone's radar and there is no doubt that they are being sought after for roles, especially now that the international box office for Fifty Shades is over $300 million. Until they know when production of Fifty Shades Darker will start they can't really commit to other projects. If they do and a sequel is officially announced they might have some scheduling conflicts which would put them in a situation where Fifty Shades would take priority since they are contractually obligated to appear. That's not fair at all and this makes it even more obvious that EL James doesn't give a shit about the other people involved in this franchise.

The complaints most people have so far about Fifty Shades of Grey was regarding the script and the so-called "bore factor" that the film brought, but knowing how difficult production was with James' involvement you can't really blame them. Universal gave this woman way too much power and now she wants more. If Taylor-Johnson does really walk and won't direct the sequels they are going to have some major problems. Her vision for the film was actually quite beautiful and I don't think the sequels will have the same vision or elements if she is not involved. Not to mention they are going to have a hell of a time finding a director who is willing to work with EL James and take her shit with a grain of salt.


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