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Fifty Shades director bows out

Sam Taylor-Johnson has announced she will not be returning to direct the sequels to Fifty Shades Of Grey.

"Directing Fifty Shades Of Grey has been an intense and incredible journey for which I am hugely grateful," she said in a statement to industry site Deadline in which she thanked Universal Pictures.

Taylor-Johnson's 40 million dollar (£27m) adaptation of author EL James's erotic novel has grossed a staggering 558 million dollars (£375m) worldwide in just six weeks in cinemas, but even before the film debuted, rumours circulated that she would not be the person ushering Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed to the big screen.

Stars Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan are expected to return for both sequels, which have yet to be officially announced.

While it is nothing new for directors to exit franchises after the first film - Twilight, The Hunger Games and Divergent all made directing changes between their first and second instalments - Taylor-Johnson and James's fraught on-set relationship was widely reported.

Earlier this year, James, also a producer on the film, alluded to their conflicts, saying that she "had to fight for a lot of things really hard," which included a disagreement over the last line of the film.

Still, in her statement, Taylor-Johnson made sure to note the "close and lasting relationships" she formed with the cast, producers, crew and "most especially, with Dakota and Jamie".

She added: "I wish nothing but success to whosoever takes on the exciting challenges of films two and three."

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