Here’s a fun fact you may not know about Fifty Shades Of Grey author E.L. James: She’s not the only writer in her family! James’ husband, Niall Leonard, is both an author and a screenwriter, having penned British television series like Air Force One Is Down (really seems like more of an American idea, but okay), Wire In The Blood, and Monarch Of The Glen (now that sounds British!), in addition to the TV movie Horatio Hornblower 3. He’s also penned his own series of books, the Crusher franchise, a set of thrillers that come complete with kind of cool names like “Crusher” and “Shredder.” Leonard even helped out–uncredited, of course–on the script for the first Fifty Shades film.
Why all the nifty Fifty Shades trivia? Because Leonard is about to get all up in the Fifty Shades Of Grey film franchise. Credited this time and everything. What a convenient, cool thing for him.
The Hollywood Reporter shares that James and the rest of her creative team has “enlisted” Leonard to write the script for the next film in the Fifty Shades franchise, based off her own Fifty Shades Darker novel. Producer Michael De Luca weighs in: “Niall is an outstanding writer in his own right, with multiple established credits, and we are lucky to have him join Team Fifty.” That is a very nice thing for him to say about a very important franchise that he is partially in charge of getting to the big screen!
Rumors of discord swirled around the creation and release of the first Fifty Shades film, rumors that appeared to have a lot of credence once it was revealed that both director Sam Taylor-Johnson (who was not exactly mum about her creative clashes with James) and screenwriter Kelly Marcel would not be returning to work on the next film in what looks to be a trilogy (please don’t do this “splitting the final book into two films” thing, you guys, please). In February, news broke that James herself wanted to pen the next script, a move that was seen as reflective of her desire to exert more control over the property. James, of course, has never written a screenplay, so that rumor came with the caveat that such a move would set back the film’s release, perhaps significantly.
But that’s not the only thing giving the project problems right now. As THR notes, both Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan are in the process of negotiating their deals for the next film, which is why “there hasn’t been much news on the follow-up.” (Unlike Marcel and Taylor-Johnson, both Dornan and Johnson have signed on to do all three films, though apparently there is some wiggle room with their financials.)
Perhaps the news that the film has finally snapped up a screenwriter will, ahem, whip them into shape.