'Fifty Shades' Movies Could Keep On Coming

Universal Pictures

Though 2015's Fifty Shades of Grey faced an onslaught of negativity from film critics, it also brought in over $570 million dollars worldwide, with a budget of $40 million dollars. With that kind of success, it was no surprise that Universal Studios decided to push ahead to make a sequel to the certified smash hit, and that sequel, Fifty Shades Darker, is now heading to theaters on Feb. 10. Fans of the first film and of the book series are surely thrilled to meet up with Jamie Dornan's Christian Grey and Dakota Johnson's Anastasia Steele once again, but will it be for the last time? Just how many more Fifty Shades films will there be to look forward to?

As fans of the Fifty Shades of Grey book written by E.L. James know, there's more than one Fifty Shades story to tell. In fact, the book series is a trilogy, starting with Fifty Shades of Grey, continuing with 2011's Fifty Shades Darker, and ending with 2012's Fifty Shades Freed. But even outside of that trilogy, there is a fourth Fifty Shades book, too: Grey: Fifty Shades of Grey As Told By Christian, which was published in 2015 and retells the events of the first book but from the perspective of Christian Grey rather than Anastasia Steele.

So, that leaves the question of how many of those books the studio will turn into films, and whether or not they'll go the more and more popular route of splitting any of the books into multiple films, a la Harry Potter, Twilight, The Hobbit, and other enormous franchise series. It looks like the studio is going to take a traditional route with the Fifty Shades movies, filming a classic trilogy with only three films, each one telling the same story as the book that shares its name.

Back in April of 2015, Universal announced not only the release date for the upcoming second film Fifty Shades Darker, but also for the third film, Fifty Shades Freed, which will be released in February of 2018. Though it's possible they could make a film version of Grey, there has been no talk of a fourth film, and it doesn't really seem like it would make much sense anyway. When a book is told in first-person, it can be enlightening to retread that plot again from the perspective of another character. But for a film like Fifty Shades of Grey, which tells the story of Christian and Anastasia from the naturally more distant third-person perspective of the camera lens, it would be hard to wring much of anything new out of that.

It's surprisingly comforting to learn that the Fifty Shades film series will be a trilogy just like the Fifty Shades movie series. So many film adaptations of book series, as mentioned above, stretch out pieces of literature into hours and hours of extra films, which can be exhausting for a fan who just wants something simple and loyal and who doesn't want to keep following new production developments for decades.

Now, there's always a chance that James will pull a J.K. Rowling and write more Fifty Shades novels or scripts, but for now, fans can jot down the dates of the second and third films in the Fifty Shades series on their calendars and rest easy.