E.L. James sold her movie rights for a bucket-load of cash
British author E.L. James (real name Erika Leonard) was spoilt for choice when the movie rights to her raunchy literary trilogy went on sale.
She reportedly had meetings with studios Warner Bros., Sony Pictures, Fox 2000 and Paramount but, back in March, plumped for a partnership between Universal Pictures (headed up by Brit Donna Langley) and Focus Features, agreeing a rumoured $5 million (£3.22m) for the rights to the three books.
The deal bolsters an income earned from selling more than 5.3 million copies of Fifty Shades Of Grey in the UK alone, with follow ups Fifty Shades Darker and Freed selling 3.6m and 3.2m copies respectively.
The Social Network producers are in
Michael De Luca and Dana Brunetti have been enlisted to produce the film. The pair worked as co-producers on The Social Network , as well as the upcoming Tom Hanks film Captain Phillips .
The co-chairman of Universal, Donna Langely, is hopeful the duo can bring a touch of class to proceedings. “At its core, Fifty Shades Of Grey is a love story, requiring a delicate and sophisticated hand to bring it to the big screen,” she said.
Bret Easton Ellis is out
Despite making it public that he would love the chance to turn E.L. James’s soft porn bestseller into a film, American Psycho writer Bret Easton Ellis has been ruled out of the role of screenwriter.
Typically candid, Ellis tweeted his frustration at not being able to develop the screen character of another sadomasochist:
“It’s a major disappointment to announce that I’ve somehow been taken off the list of possible screenwriters for Fifty Shades Of Grey . Thanks to the fans for the months of intense support. Your awesome enthusiasm and great suggestions were instructive and meaningful to me... @E_L_James I hope you find someone as passionate as I was about Fifty Shades Of Grey . I will miss it. Moving on. Laters, baby.”
Women may dominate the project
Of the four screenwriters being considered by producers Michael De Luca and Dana Brunetti, three are women. Veena Sud – a writer and executive producer on The Killing – is currently the favourite, promising to bring a sleek, noir feel to the film.
Sud is up against emerging writer Karen Croner, who recently adapted Jean Hanff Korelitz’s book Admission into a film of the same title starring Tiny Fey and Paul Rudd.
The final female contender is Kelly Marcel. She’s best known for writing ambitious Steven Spielberg TV epic Terra Nova , but she’s also penned Saving Mr Banks – a film that tells the story of the making of Mary Poppins , with Tom Hanks playing Walt Disney.
The Fifty Shades movie may be suitable for kids
Well, not quite. But Dan Fogelman – the man behind the screenplay of family favourites Cars , Bolt and Tangled – is on the shortlist of four screenwriters being considered for the film.
We can’t quite imagine Fifty Shades as an animated movie, but digital manipulation may well make some of the tie-her-up scenes a little easier to execute.
The movie is still without a director
It was rumoured back in June that Angelina Jolie might be fit for purpose, having done a decent job on In The Land Of Blood And Honey .
And before being dumped from the project, Bret Easton Ellis was keen to bring David Cronenberg on board. But, unsurprisingly, a director has yet to be signed.
Americans have embraced Fifty Shades as their own
Fifty Shades Of Grey has sold a mind-blowing 20 million copies in the US sparking comparisons with fellow literary phenomena Twilight and The Hunger Games .
The huge US fan base, together with the fact E.L. James chose not to make the book’s characters or setting discernably British, means the film is more likely to feature American actors in an American location.
Superman is favourite to play Christian Grey
Despite being only 27-years old in the book, billionaire Christian Grey is likely to be played by someone older. Twenty-nine year-old Henry Cavill, star of the upcoming Superman rebooot Man Of Steel , is currently the UK bookies’ favourite.
Paddy Power also has good odds on the much older Cillian Murphy, The Vampire Diaries ' Ian Somerhalder, Ryan Gosling and True Blood 's Alexander Skarsgard, placing them in the top five slots.
The even older Brits Christian Bale and Michael Fassbender come in at number ten and 11 respectively.
And only this week, Brett Easton Ellis tweeted that ex-porn star James Deen is also in the running to portray Grey.
Matt Bomer is too gay for Grey
While Matt Bomer’s sexuality is hardly newsworthy, his rumoured connection with Fifty Shades Of Grey has caused a flutter of controversy. The Magic Mike and White Collar actor has been tipped to play sadist Christian Grey, news that hasn’t gone down all that well with some.
Bret Easton Ellis shared his views on Twitter, stating: “Okay I’ll say it. Matt Bomer isn’t right for Christian Grey because he is openly gay. He’s great for other roles but this is too big a game.”
Despite the online debate that ensued, Bomer is still one of the favourites to take the role.
Robert Pattinson would be perfect casting
E.L. James began writing Fifty Shades Of Grey as Twilight fan fiction with an erotic twist, and the character of Christian Grey is said to have been inspired by Edward Cullen as played by Robert Pattinson in The Twilight Saga .
This makes Pattinson the most obvious choice for Christian. With Kristen Stewart suggested as a possible Anastasia Steele, he may well jump at a role that demands he tie her up and flog her.
The part of Anastasia Steele is still up for grabs
Despite online gossip galore, the role of 22-year old virgin-turned-submissive Anastasia Steele has yet to be cast.
Gossip Girl actor Katie Cassidy has been named as one of the most popular contenders, while Shailene Woodley, fresh from playing Alexandra King in The Descendants , is also among the most-talked about candidates.
Emma Stone, Emma Watson, Pretty Little Liars' Lucy Hale and Kristen Stewart are also high on the list of suggested casting options.
Innocence could be corrupted
Anyone who has seen the white-as-snow drama series Gilmore Girls will be horrified to hear that Alexis Bledel (yes, that innocent, academic sweetheart Rory Gilmore) is reported to be one of the forerunners for the role of Ana Steele.
We’d rather not picture it – we’re still cringing over her near-naked turn in Mad Men as Pete Campbell’s bit-on-the-side. And the less said about her sex scene in The Kate Logan Affair , the better.
Rumours are just that
Any casting rumours, speculation and gossip have been firmly met with a ‘no comment’ response by both E.L. James and producer duo Michael De Luca and Dana Brunetti. In early August, James tweeted: “I am not making any comments on casting the movie. No one is ruled out or in yet – far too early.”
De Luca enforced the message by saying: “All the rumours on #FiftyShades are just rumours... No one has been cast in any role. We have to get a writer and a director first.”
The author has creative control
It seems that breaking the record for the best selling book in British history earns you certain privileges. The status clearly won E.L. James leverage when negotiating the movie rights to her books. Her agent, Valerie Hoskins, said control was exceptionally important to James – much like it is to her character, power freak Christian Grey.
“I sent out a term sheet of what we wanted, and the priority was that somebody came back with something that was truly collaborative,” said Hoskins. “All of the offers fulfilled that to a degree, but the Universal offer fulfilled it 100%.
The goal was to protect the material and its manifestations into movies… It is very sensitive material. It could become sleazy, it could become cheesy, it could end up looking like porn. It needs to be classy, sexy, rather than full of sex.”
The soundtrack will be classy
Proving sadists have class too, Christian Grey has a penchant for classical music and a fine talent for playing piano.
EMI Classics has already put together Fifty Shades Of Grey: The Classical Album (released in the UK on September 17 2012) and we’re certain the film’s soundtrack won’t deviate too much from this selection of 15 tracks, which features pieces by Bach, Chopin and Verdi.
The album was put together with E.L. James herself, who says each piece inspired her while writing Fifty Shades .
Fifty Shades Of Grey would make a great comedy
Max Greenfield, who plays New Girl ’s smart-mouthed, hygiene-obsessed Schmidt, has come out and said what we’re all thinking: Fifty Shades Of Grey would make a great comedy.
He’s suggested playing Christian Grey himself, and roping (ahem) Girls writer/actor Lena Dunham into the role of submissive Ana Steele.
He thinks Knocked Up director Judd Apatow would be the ideal man to bring the idea to fruition. We’re inclined to agree.
There will be spoofs
Saturday Night Live has already had a stab at a Fifty Shades parody, Ellen DeGeneres has used it in a sketch, and there are countless Fifty Shades literary generators and video spoofs online.
It’s only a matter of time before someone commissions a Scary Movie -style Fifty Shades piss-take. All those erections “springing free” from pants and the laments of Ana’s “inner-goddess” would make satire gold.
Tess Of The DUrbervilles may return to the big screen
Sales of Thomas Hardy’s Tess Of The D’Urbervilles have apparently increased, with readers inspired by Ana Steele’s university essay on the book.
Michael Winterbottom based his most recent film Trishna on the classic work of literature, transferring the action to India and casting Frieda Pinto as Tess.
We’re expecting fresh interest in his film, as well as a few new Hardy adaptations.
The merchandise will be embarrassing
The Fifty Shades Of Grey trilogy has already spawned its own line of lingerie, sleepwear, hosiery and hoodies (yes, we’re baffled by the last one too), plus commemorative mugs, stationery and iPod skins, so it’s only natural that the movie will inspire more spin-offs.
We’re thinking Christian and Anastasia dolls with matching bondage accessories. Ahhh… how sweet.
Harry Potter shouldnt be too worried
The figures are giving Universal and Focus Features studio execs hope that the erotic tale might do the same on the big screen.
They have a hefty challenge ahead, however: the Harry Potter film franchise is reported to have grossed more that $7 billion at the worldwide box office.