Universal Pictures and Focus Features announced on Wednesday [19] that the British filmmaker will take the reins of their adaptation of EL James’ S&M thriller smash Fifty Shades Of Grey.

Michael De Luca and Dana Brunetti are producing the bestseller about the relationship between a billionaire and a college student. James will also produce. Kelly Marcel adapts the screenplay.

Focus Features will distribute in the US and Universal will distribute internationally.

Sam Taylor-Johnson most recently directed 2009’s Nowhere Boy. She is currently in development on a film for Columbia Pictures based on the novel by Robert Goorlick, A Reliable Wife. De Luca is also producing that project.

“I am excited to be charged with the evolution of Fifty Shades Of Grey from page to screen,” said Taylor-Johnson. 

“For the legions of fans, I want to say that I will honour the power of Erika’s book and the characters of Christian and Anastasia. They are under my skin too.”

Universal Pictures and Focus Features acquired rights to James’ trilogy in March 2012 after prevailing in a frenzied bidding war.

Focus Features will market and distribute the first film in partnership with Universal. 

The two sequels are Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed.