Friday, April 12, 2024

“Fifty Shades Darker” May Do 50% Less Than First Film: Sources Say E.L. James Got Final Cut


The world is waiting for this Friday’s release of “Fifty Shades Darker,” the sequel to “Fifty Shades of Grey.” But not that much of the world.

Early tracking suggests that the sequel could do 50% less business at the box office on opening weekend. The first film had an opening weekend of $85 million, which turned out to be fully half of its domestic total of $166 million. The new film is projected anywhere from $30-$40 million this weekend.

It almost doesn’t matter how much this new film, directed by James Foley, makes. The first one had a worldwide total of $571 million. Universal probably made all of its money from the planned trilogy back on Day 1.

I’ve been told that one big problem with “Darker” is that the book’s author–and screenplay writer– E.L. James– had final cut approval on this film. Sources say she had more authority than Foley or anyone at the studio. James “whipped them” into shape, so to speak. And no one was going to fight with her.

One “Darker” insider told me that they weren’t sure if James actually had final cut, but that “she was the most involved with this film than any writer ever.” It’s also well known that the director of “Fifty Shades of Grey,” Sam Taylor Johnson, didn’t return because of James. Foley is kind of a D list director whose biggest hit, “Perfect Stranger,” made $23 million in 2007.

Universal is not overplaying this release. Their premiere this week in Hollywood is a small one, downtown, at the Ace Hotel. There’s also a “fan event.” In New York there are just press screenings. Reviews are being held until the last minute.

If “Darker” tanks, by the way, look for Universal to do what LionsGate has to the “Divergent” series– and throw the last episode onto cable, pay for view, VOD, or other platforms.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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