Fifty Shades Darker movie
Whoever is brought aboard as new director will work with star Jamie Dornan as he reprises his role as BDSM-advocate Christian Grey Universal Pictures

House Of Cards director James Foley has been named Universal's top choice to direct Fifty Shades Of Grey sequel, Fifty Shades Darker. The need for a new name comes after director of the first instalment, Sam Taylor-Johnson officially bowed out of steering any follow-up adaptations. Unsurprisingly so given how she famously clashed with author EL James during production.

Considering the success of the first financially, it's understandable that the film-makers are keen to keep moving forward with the sequel despite the obstacles, but they'll want to get this choice right as a good call could mean they've not only set themselves up for the second movie but would enable them to start shooting the third, Fifty Shades Freed, almost immediately afterwards, following a smooth production this time round.

James Foley (director)
James Foley has previously directed films such as Fear and Perfect Stranger Frazer Harrison/Getty

According to The Hollywood Reporter, there are three potential directors that the studio is contemplating for the sequel but sources say that Foley is currently the front runner. The Mothman Prophecies' Mark Pellington and Tanya Wexler (Hysteria) however are not out of the running just yet.

James' husband Niall Leonard will be joining the franchise, acting as screenwriter while she will remain on in a producing role. Stars Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson will be returning as Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele respectively. Rita Ora and Luke Grimes who play Grey's siblings, Mia and Elliot, will also be reprising their roles.

While he's been mainly working in television as of late, most recently on series such as Hannibal and Wayward Pines as well as House Of Cards, Foley has previously directed feature-length titles including Glengarry Glen Ross, Perfect Stranger and Fear so he's no novice with the format.

Darker is scheduled to reach UK cinemas in February 2017 with Freed planned for release the year after that.