Updated 09:38 PM EDT, Mon, Sep 27, 2021

‘Fifty Shades Darker’ Trailer & Release Date: Is 'House of Cards' Director James Foley Helming Sequel?

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After a tumultuous working relationship with "Fifty Shades of Grey" author EL James, it comes as no surprise that director Sam Taylor-Johnson refused to return for the sequel. The directing gig has been surrounded with a lot of controversy, as Taylor-Johnson has been very vocal about her struggles when working with James, whom reported to be very involved and opinionated in the adaptation of thr erotic series.

Still, with the buzz that "50 Shades" generated, here are a lot of takers, probably. Sources for The Hollywood Reporter said that there are three finalists for the gig -- James Foley, Mark Pellington and Tanya Wexler. There is no official offer yet, but producers will start looking into it by next week, with Foley being the frontrunner for the gig.

The three directors have a variety of experiences in helming films and shows. Foley, however, was noted to have directed about a dozen episodes of hit Netflix series, "House of Cards." His film credits include "Fear," starring Mark Wahlberg and Reese Witherspoon, and the thriller "Perfect Stranger," with Halle Berry and Bruce Willis.

However, it is Foley's experience in the thriller genre that likely piqued the producer's interest. Entertainment Weekly noted that he second book in James's trilogy features elements of suspense, with Anastasia Steele not only having to deal with being stalked by Christian Grey's former lover, but also being harassed by her new boss.

Pellington has directed "Arlington Road" starring Jeff Bridges and Tim Robbins, but he is more known for his work with a slew of bands on short films, documentaries, and music videos, including helming "U2 3D" in 2007.

Finally, Wexler, the only female contender for the director's chair is known for her film "Hysteria" with Maggie Gyllenhaal and Hugh Dancy.

Another behind-the-scenes personality to quit the series is screenwriter Kelly Marcell. According to Entertainment Weekly, taking over the script for "50 Shades Darker" is James's husband, Niall Leonard.

Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan will reprise their roles as Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey in the sequel, and while there is no official announcement yet as to the rest of the cast, the Inquistr reported that among the strong contenders for Grey's ex-lover Leila Williams are "Gilmore Girls" actress, Alexis Bledel, and "Paper Towns" lead, Cara Delevigne.

Despite lacking a director and being kept in the pre-production phase, "50 Shades Darker" has been announced by Universal to hit theaters on February 10, 2017.

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