Sam Taylor-Johnson will not be returning to direct the remaining Fifty Shades of Grey films, she confirmed today.
In the written statement, released to US website Deadline, 48 year old Taylor-Johnson said, "Directing Fifty Shades Of Grey has been an intense and incredible journey for which I am hugely grateful."
The filmmaker and photographer added, "I forged close and lasting relationships with the cast, producers and crew and most especially with Dakota and Jamie."
"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."
"Fifty Shades Darker" is the second book of EL James's "Fifty Shades" trilogy to be adapted into a film. The trilogy is based on the kinky antics of dominant Christian Grey, played by Jamie Dornan, and his submissive Anastasia Steele, played by Dakota Johnson.
Despite Taylor-Johnson’s departure, both stars are set to return for the second film.
The director had largely been expected to turn down the opportunity to direct "Fifty Shades Darker".
According to reports, Taylor-Johnson clashed with the author over direction of the film, and told Porter magazine, “It was difficult, I’m not going to lie.”
She told of how the pair had on screen rows, saying "We would have proper on-set ‘barneys, and I’m not confrontational, but it was about finding a way between the two of us, satisfying her vision of what she’d written as well as my need to visualise this person on-screen.”
Kelly Marcel, who wrote the screenplay for the film, will also not be returning to the franchise, and EL James is reportedly keen to write the screenplay herself.
The author was rumoured to have final say over the script of the first film, and reportedly changed Taylor-Johnson’s preferred ending.
Since its release over Valentine’s Day weekend, "Fifty Shades of Grey" has become a worldwide hit. The film has so far totted up over $338.4 million and has become Universal Picture’s highest-grossing R-rated international release.
The original book, which was published in 2011, was the fastest-selling paperback of all time, and has sold over 100 million copies worldwide.
Production for Fifty Shades Darker is due to begin in the first quarter of 2016 although no release date has been set.
Images: Rex and Instagram