Fifty Shades of Grey has grossed more than half a billion dollars worldwide, rocketed newcomers Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan into the stratosphere, and confirmed that sex really does sell on the big screen. But despite all this success, media reports suggest that the film’s director, Sam Taylor-Johnson, will likely not return to direct the sequel. Should she step away from the kinky trilogy—Universal Studios says no decision has been made and the producers are still weeks away from discussing Fifty Shades Darker—the British director would join a growing number of filmmakers who have launched major movie franchises based on best-selling books, only to hand over the reins to someone else for the follow-ups.
Catherine Hardwicke left the Twilight universe after the first film grossed $392.6 million worldwide. The Hunger Games director Gary Ross left after just one turn in the arena, despite the fact that he’d just unleashed a $2.3 billion global juggernaut. Even Divergent director Neil Burger stepped off the YA-fiction hit after his Shailene Woodley-starring film racked up some serious coin. And of course the mother of all book franchises, Harry Potter, saw Chris Columbus helm the first two before three other directors finished the magical series. The question is: Why?