Niall Leonard 50 Shades of Grey
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Niall Leonard, E.L. James’ husband, has been tapped to pen the screenplay for “Fifty Shades Darker,” the sequel to Universal’s “Fifty Shades of Grey.”

Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan are attached to reprise their roles with James, Dana Brunetti and Michael De Luca producing.

While this will mark Leonard’s first time working on a major studio film, he has written scripts for British television on such shows as “Wild at Heart” and “Wire in the Blood.” Variety first reported in February that the reason for the delay in naming a screenwriter for the sequel was that James herself wanted to write the screenplay.

While Leonard works on the script, the studio will now look to find a replacement for director Sam Taylor-Johnson, who announced last month she would not be returning.

No release date or production start date has been set, though sources close to the project still believe production would most likely start in the first quarter of 2016. The “Fifty Shades of Grey” franchise is a top priority for the studio following the first film’s success at the box office, with more than $567 million worldwide.

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