Fifty Shades Of Grey didn’t stun anybody when it performed strongly in the box office. In fact, with its somewhat lukewarm sexuality and bondage, Fifty Shades Of Grey didn’t shock anybody, period, except that one lady who accidentally led her grandkids into a screening, intending to see Paddington. So we’ll toss another log of obviousness onto the bonfire of predictability: the two Fifty Shades sequels will be released a year apart, on successive Valentine’s Day weekends.

Fifty Shades Darker should compel audiences to squint at some pretty inky hues on February 10, 2017, while Fifty Shades Freed could celebrate the emancipation of monochromatic tints (and the marital enslavement of Anastasia Steele) on February 9, 2018.


Of course, all of this is predicated on the assumption that Universal will get its whips and chains in order. With creator E.L. James nipple-clamping down on creative oversight, and Fifty Shades director Sam Taylor-Johnson fleeing the sequels, James’ husband Niall Leonard being made screenwriter for the sequel, and issues raised over stars Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan’s salaries, the franchise feels like it could implode at any moment. Despite those challenges, the promise of two more guaranteed hits during a typical box-office doldrum should be enough for Universal to craft whatever Faustian pact needed to keep its 50 tons of cash rolling in.

Meanwhile, none of this solves your date-night dilemma for Valentine’s Day 2016. If you’re looking for a way to sit silently next to your lover next February, we’ll go out on a limb and preemptively recommend a movie that looks so hot right now.