Universal & Focus Features Snag Erotic 'Fifty Shades of Grey' Novel
Even if the phenomenon of The Twilight Saga is coming to an end, that doesn't mean the influence of the books by Stephenie Meyer are done infiltrating Hollywood. There a popular series of e-books (coming soon to paperback) that starts with Fifty Shades of Grey. The story follows an impending college graduate named Anastasia Steele, who strikes up an S&M romance with successful young entrepreneur Christian Grey, the physical and emotional dominant to her submissive personality. It spawned as fan-fiction inspired by Twilight and is now insanely popular amongst female readers, which means it's prime for the big screen.
Described as "Mommy porn" from author E.L. James, studios were in a bidding war last week to snag the rights to this book, which also includes the second and third novels, Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed, but Variety reports Universal and Focus Features were the ones who came out on top. It's not clear how much they paid, but Sony was said to have bid $5 million last week and they ended up not winning. Focus will be responsible for marketing and distribution, so I doubt we're looking at a high profile release on the same scale as The Twilight Saga.
Many studios have envisioned the erotic novels as becoming a film series akin to 9 1/2 Weeks, the 80's thriller starring Mickey Rourke and Kim Basinger. To me it sounds like a more high profile version of the sexy indie film Secretary starring Maggie Gyllenhaal and James Spader. Either way, the books have been gaining steam and will jump from their e-book roots to paperback early next month. This will likely not get anything under an R-rating, at least if it stays true to some of the source material that I've been privy to from female friends and colleagues, so don't expect younger audiences to be allowed in theaters. Stay tuned.