Sam Taylor-Johnson Exits 'Fifty Shades Of Grey' Franchise, But She's Got Nothing But Love For Almost Everyone Involved

The clash of the titans has come to an end, and only one has emerged victorious. According to the woman herself, Sam Taylor-Johnson is leaving Fifty Shades Of Grey as the director, following admitted clashes with E. L. James — the author of the book series upon which the films are based. The insanely popular movie, that has been praised for subverting the boy-meets-girl-and-they-fall-in-love narrative, was all that anyone could talk about when it was released in February 2015, but Taylor-Johnson won't be there to see the sequel Fifty Shades Darker make the leap from page to screen. While her allegedly ongoing feud with James was not cited as the reason for her departure, well, it's not hard to guess that's the real reason.

Taylor-Johnson's actual statement, however, was incredibly sweet and complimentary toward Universal Studios and the cast of the first film in the trilogy. "Directing Fifty Shades of Grey has been an intense and incredible journey for which I am hugely grateful," she confirmed to E! News on Wednesday. "I have Universal to thank for that. I forged close and lasting relationships with the cast, producers and crew and most especially, with [Dakota Johnson] and [Jamie Dornan]. 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."

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All things considered, it's wonderful to hear that Taylor-Johnson isn't parting ways with the franchise because of internal struggles. She took a lackluster novel and turned it into a blockbuster film that not only made Anastasia Steele into more of a feminist than the audience was expecting, but told a love story that was enhanced by the sex rather than weighed down by gratuitous scenes of steamy nudity. However, her departure serves to make the comparisons between Fifty Shades Of Grey and its base work, Twilight, even more apparent. After all, the original director of Twilight — Catherine Hardwicke — also exited the franchise without directing the sequels.

Films changing directors between sequels is hardly unusual, and it has happened in a variety of blockbusters so far. Fans should take comfort in the fact that Taylor-Johnson is leaving for the sole fact that the person who has had the most rumors flying about their imminent departure was Christian Grey himself a.k.a. Jamie Dornan. Personally, I'd rather lose the director than lose the stars of the film itself. As I said, Taylor-Johnson did wonders with the story of Fifty Shades, which was far more enjoyable as a Universal film than it was as a novel, and I'm already mourning the loss.

However, hopefully, her shoes will be filled by another talented female director (is Catherine Hardwicke available?) and the Fifty Shades sequels will carry on without further behind-the-scenes interruption.

Image: Universal; Getty Images