Director Sam Taylor-Johnson is bowing out of the erotic drama "Fifty Shades of Grey" trilogy, recently announcing she will not be directing the film's sequel, Fifty Shades Darker.
In a statement released to Deadline Hollywood, Taylor-Johnson thanked the film's co-stars Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson.
The risqué film stars Dornan as the eccentric and powerful billionaire Christian Grey and Dakota Johnson as his unassuming love interest, Anastasia Steele.
"Directing Fifty Shades of Grey has been an intense and incredible journey for which I am hugely grateful. I have Universal to thank for that. I forged close and lasting relationships with the cast, producers and crew and most especially, with Dakota and Jamie," Taylor-Johnson said in the statement.
Actors Dornan and Johnson are expected to return to their respective for the films' highly-anticipated sequels.
Industry insiders say Taylor-Johnson's exit was expected – and that there's no love lost between Taylor-Johnson and Fifty Shades of Grey author E.L. James.
Media reports indicate Taylor-Johnson bristled over James' attempts to secure her creative control over the franchise in an effort to please the novelists' vast fan base. The Fifty Shades of Grey book series is reported to have sold over 100 million copies.
Before the film's release, The Variety reported clashes between James and Taylor-Johnson constantly in the editing room and on the set.
"We disagreed a lot," Taylor-Johnson told Variety. "She created these characters and the story. I was trying to create a film experience that would honor the book but at the same time give us a fresh perspective. That was difficult for her. We'd battle things out. I think you could say we crossed every scenario through our battles."
Despite creative differences, bondage- heavy Fifty Shades of Grey made its debut over Valentine's Day weekend with global sales topping some $558 Million sales worldwide.
One of the top-grossing films in Universal Pictures history – studio executives are keen to release two sequels in synch with the book's trilogy, Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed.
Universal has not yet named a replacement to direct the second film in the erotic trilogy, but Taylor-Johnson reportedly expressed best wishes to her successor.
"While I will not be returning to direct the sequels, I wish nothing but success to whosoever takes on the exciting challenges of films two and three," Taylor-Johnson told The Hollywood Reporter.
In addition to Taylor-Johnson, Fifty Shades of Grey screenwriter Kelly Marcel will also be replaced, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
[Image Credit: Getty Images]