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Charlie Hunnam has dropped out of the lead role of Christian Grey in Fifty Shades of Grey, Universal Pictures announced Saturday.

"The filmmakers of Fifty Shades of Grey and Charlie Hunnam have agreed to find another male lead given Hunnam's immersive TV schedule which is not allowing him to adequately prepare for the role of Christian Grey," Universal Picture said in a statement.

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Hunnam was cast in the lead role of E L James' best-selling novel in September, along with Dakota Johnson as Anastasia Steele.

The casting led to howls of protests from fans of the kinky sex missive which is due out in August 2014.

Fans even went so far as to sign a petition calling for the roles to be recast.

James responded to the news of Hunnam's departure on Twitter Saturday saying, "I wish Charlie all the best. x"