‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ Sequel Eyes ‘House of Cards’ Director James Foley

Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson will return to star in “Fifty Shades Darker”

After working with producer Dana Brunetti on numerous episodes of “House of Cards,” veteran filmmaker James Foley has emerged as the frontrunner to direct “Fifty Shades Darker,” the sequel to Universal’s blockbuster hit “Fifty Shades of Grey,” an individual familiar with the project has told TheWrap.

Other directors who were up for the coveted gig have started to be notified that they didn’t get it.

E.L. James’ husband, screenwriter Niall Leonard, adapted his wife’s bestselling book, and Michael De Luca returns to produce the steamy sequel with Brunetti.

Stars Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson will reprise their roles as Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele. Sam Taylor-Johnson directed the first film, which grossed $569 million worldwide on a $40 million production budget.

While insiders tell TheWrap that Universal initially sought another female filmmaker to replace Taylor-Johnson, they ultimately decided to hire the best director for the high-profile job, and according to a well-placed source, that’s expected to be Foley.

Foley directed “Glengarry Glen Ross” and the Mark Wahlberg-Reese Witherspoon thriller “Fear,” which featured a kinky scene on a rollercoaster. Lately, Foley has been focused on TV, directing episodes of “Hannibal” and “Wayward Pines” in addition to “House of Cards.”

Insiders tell TheWrap that it’s a distinct possibility that Universal could shoot “Fifty Shades Darker” and the trilogy closer “Fifty Shades Freed” back-to-back but a shooting schedule hasn’t been decided upon yet, and it’s unclear whether Foley would commit to directing both sequels.

“Fifty Shades Darker” will hit theaters on Feb. 10, 2017, while “Fifty Shades Freed” is due Feb. 9, 2018.