The success of Fifty Shades of Grey has given stars Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan negotiating power. The actors were reportedly paid $250,000 each for the film, but with a box office gross of $528 million to date, they are asking for a sharp increase for the sequels.
The Hollywood Reporter noted that the box office take is despite the fact that Fifty Shades has an R rating, which limits its potential audience. While the movie has been a huge hit for Universal, there are signs curiosity brought out moviegoers. The movie’s ticket sales dropped by 70 percent after its opening weekend.
Before the sequel to Fifty Shades hits theaters, producers will have to sign on a new writer and director. The writer of the novel on which the film is based, E.L. James, did not gel with director Sam Taylor-Johnson. Kelly Marcel has not been contracted to write the script. Despite these behind-the-scenes conflicts and uncertainties, Johnson’s co-star Dornan revealed last month through his representative he’s game for a sequel.
“Jamie is delighted that the film is breaking box office records worldwide and whilst the studio has not made any formal announcements about sequels, he is looking forward to making the next film.”
Jennifer Lawrence was paid $500,000 for the first Hunger Games film and $10 million for its sequel, Catching Fire. The 20-fold increase came after The Hunger Games brought in $691 million in 2012. Lawrence’s salary is poignant, given she was at the center of a pay inequality story that came to light because of the Sony hack. The female actors of American Hustle were given a smaller cut of the film’s back-end profits than were the men.
Johnson and Dornan were on equal footing for the first Fifty Shades movie, but it is uncertain whether Universal will view one actor or the other more valuable in the forthcoming films. The Hollywood Reporter implied the studio wants to keep the stars in its good books, since it already has to find another director and writer.
Johnson has ridden the wave of Fifty Shades success with an increased public profile. She tried her hand at sketch comedy when she hosted Saturday Night Live late last month. She called upon her famous parents, Melanie Griffith and Don Johnson, for help as they participated in the humor during her opening monologue.
Only a few short weeks after Fifty Shades made its huge impression at the box office, Dakota Johnson is to have another new film released. The Shakespearian update Cymbeline co-stars Ethan Hawke and opens March 13.
[Dakota Johnson image courtesy of Getty]