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James Foley Is Frontrunner to Direct ‘Fifty Shades’ Sequel

It looks like Universal is close to finding a director for the next installment of the “Fifty Shades of Grey” franchise.

While no offer has been delivered, sources tell Variety that James Foley is the frontrunner to land the “Fifty Shades Darker” job and that an offer should be delivered shortly for the TV and film helmer, who has most recently worked on “House of Cards.”

Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson are attached to reprise their roles, with author E.L. James, Michael De Luca and Dana Brunetti producing. Niall Leonard penned the script.

Execs had been meeting with directors over the past several months since announcing that Sam Taylor-Johnson, who directed the first of the trilogy, would not be returning as director.

Production will begin in the first quarter of 2016, with the film set to bow on Feb. 14, 2017, so Foley will have time to assess the script and form his strategy. Casting should get under way once Foley’s deal is worked out, but sources add the process will be straightforward since the leads are already in place.

Foley directed stylish dramas of the ’80s and ’90s including “After Dark, My Sweet,” “At Close Range,” “Fear” and “Glengarry Glen Ross.” His first film was 1984 romance “Reckless,” which starred Darryl Hannah and Aidan Quinn as lovers from opposite backgrounds.

He is repped by UTA and Agence 3a.

Deadline Hollywood first reported the news.

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