'Fifty Shades of Grey' Director Sam Taylor-Johnson Exits Franchise

The director won't be back to helm the sequel Fifty Shades Darker

Photo: Mike Marsland/WireImage

Sam Taylor-Johnson is no longer bound to Fifty Shades of Grey.

The filmmaker won’t be returning to direct the sequels to the buzzy and highly profitable erotic drama.

“Directing Fifty Shades of Grey has been an intense and incredible journey for which I am hugely grateful,” she said in a statement obtained by PEOPLE. “I have Universal to thank for that. 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.”

The opening salvo in the Fifty Shades trilogy’s big-screen adaptation proved to be a monumental success, delivering the first bona fide hit of 2015 and raking in $558 million globally after a massive casting search that finally netted stars Jamie Dornan as the titular S&M-prone lothario and Dakota Johnson as his innocent lover.

Taylor-Johnson, however, has been vocal about tensions between her and Fifty Shades author E.L. James, telling Porter magazine earlier this year, “We definitely fought, but they were creative fights and we would resolve them.”

She added, “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 visualize this person on screen.”

Anticipation is ramping up for the next installments in the franchise, with the film’s two stars reportedly seeking substantial salary bumps.

With reporting by SIMON PERRY

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