Universal Announces ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ Movie Writer; Avoids Mention of Sexual Subject Matter

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Fifty Shades of Grey Movie Universal Focus Features Universal Announces Fifty Shades of Grey Movie Writer; Avoids Mention of Sexual Subject Matter

By now you’ve almost certainly heard about Fifty Shades of Grey, even if you’ve never read (or even seen) the book. What started as a piece of Twilight Saga fan-fiction has blown up into a worldwide bestselling book trilogy by former UK television executive E L James, which gained popularity in no small part due to the sexually explicit nature of the story.

Well, Hollywood took notice of the literary phenomenon, and Universal Pictures scooped up the movie rights, which the studio plans to capitalize on sooner rather than later. To that end, today brings official word that the Fifty Shades of Grey movie is in production with a script being written by Kelly Marcel, who worked on Fox’s Terra Nova before her screenplay for Saving Mr. Banks - an upcoming film about Walt Disney’s production of Mary Poppins, starring Tom Hanks – gained notice on Hollywood’s Black List of the best unproduced scripts.

If you haven’t yet discovered the cause of all the fuss, Fifty Shades of Grey chronicles the romance between a college student named Anastasia Steele (yep, actual character name) and Christian Grey, a 20-something billionaire who has deep-seeded issues. Check out Universal’s official synopsis below, and then we’ll talk about what the studio is NOT advertising about this film:

Universal Pictures and Focus Features today announced that Kelly Marcel will write the screenplay to the highly anticipated film adaptation of “Fifty Shades of Grey.” Michael De Luca and Dana Brunetti will produce the film based on E L James’ #1 Bestselling book, alongside James. The announcement was made by Universal Pictures Co-Chairman, Donna Langley and Focus Features’ Chief Executive Officer, James Schamus.

“Fifty Shades of Grey” has become a global phenomenon and the trilogy has been translated in 45 languages worldwide since its release. In the U.S. alone, the “Fifty Shades” trilogy has sold over 32 million copies in e-book and print, making it one of the fastest selling book series ever.

“Fifty Shades of Grey” follows the relationship of 27-year-old billionaire Christian Grey and college student Anastasia Steele. Subsequent novels in the series, “Fifty Shades Darker” (September 2011) and “Fifty Shades Freed” (January 2012) explore the couple’s deepening relationship. For more information please see the official Fifty Shades of Grey Facebook page :http://www.facebook.com/fiftyshadesofgreymovie.

Reading over that last paragraph, it sounds as though this film could be some kind of modern-day-set Keira Knightly romantic drama, except for that one small detail that the press release leaves out: all the dirty sex play that’s in the book series.

As mentioned, a lot of Fifty Shades of Grey‘s notoriety didn’t come from its questionable prose style, but rather from the explicit scenes in which Christian introduces straight-laced Anastasia to the world of BDSM (Bondage & Discipline/Dominance & Submission/Sadism & Masochism) – i.e., hardcore sex play. As you can read above, this tantalizing hook is left out of Universal’s plot synopsis, and raises question about how the studio will market this movie going forward.

Fifty Shades of Grey Darker Freedom Books Universal Announces Fifty Shades of Grey Movie Writer; Avoids Mention of Sexual Subject Matter

Here’s the thing: Fifty Shades of Grey became a hit primarily amongst female 20 – 30 somethings (it’s been dubbed “mommy porn”) largely because it was written by a woman and broached the issues of sex and sexuality with (supposedly) feminine sensibilities. For example: Christian Grey isn’t presented as a sex perv, he’s a vulnerable, emotionally stunted young man in need of real love and saving – swoon! Moreover, the books served as an expose of sorts, informing the uninitiated about an extreme niche sub-culture (BDSM) that they had not explored -or were even all that familiar with. If you know someone who read the book(s), only to ask (curiously/excitedly), “People really DO this stuff?” you are not alone in that experience.

This kind of new horizon (explicit as it is) works fine in the intimate privacy of reading, but when putting it onscreen, the line between exploration and voyeurism, art and pornography, becomes much, much, thinner. The books are narrated from inside Anastasia’s head, but not many “voice-over sex scenes” come to mind when thinking back on movies I’ve seen. I say all that to say: in some ways Fifty Shades of Grey the movie could end up being this generation’s Basic Instinct, i.e. a pulpy genre flick whose explicit nature elevates it to cultural fixation.

Then again, aside from the actual BDSM activities introduced, James’ books are actually rather wooden in their handling of the explicit moments; I would go so far as to say they’re even a bit silly, but that’s just me. So rather than some hot-under-the-collar psycho-sexual movie experience, Marcel could end up delivering something that is disappointingly tame in its actual representation of the material. Still, Universal is clearly wary of the issue, as this carefully-worded announcement would suggest.

Will they aim the movie at a younger demographic and soften the explicit parts? Or will we be getting the wilder ‘for adults’ version? It will be interesting to see.

We’ll keep you updated on the status of the Fifty Shades of Grey movie as more news comes to light.

Source: Universal Pictures

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  1. Well of course they would be going for the younger demographic, even the older demograhic would enjoy it. If so many young people flocked to see Twilight then I’m sure they would have no trouble with a PG-13 rating, I bet even some teenage boys would be racing to the theatre just to see it also. Lower rating equals more box office numbers and more followers.

    • Ruins the books. According to my wife, the book is very, erotic. Doubt they can do a PG-13 and get away with it.

      • Well they are going to have to cut down a portion anyway so a PG-13 would be fine. Besides what would be more important to the studios, the box office numbers or the small demographic of people that actual have read the novel. Films like the recent “Easy A” have proved you can have a movie filled with sensual themes but still subtle it down to a PG-13 level. I even doubt the scenes from the book will be exactly like the movie.

  2. Could they make it PG-13? Yes. Should they make it PG-13? ABSOLUTELY NOT.

  3. There is no way they are going to market this movie to the teen/Twilight crowd. I believe they will stay away from the NC-17 rating because those movies just don’t make a profit. But they will take it as far as they can go and keep a hard R rating.

  4. How many people here in the comments have actually read the book?



    I haven’t, and have no immediate plans to, though that could change if Fassbender’s Cast

  5. You said “Hard R”. Heh-heh, heh-heh.

    • Chump Force 1?


  6. I’d imagine this to be marketed towards the Magic Mike crowd.

  7. Soon to be followed by the sequels 51 shades of grey and 52 shades of grey and the prequels 48 shades of grey and 49 shades of grey… Tv series in the works from 1 to 47.. I look forward to the film winning all the awards at the golden Rasberries.

  8. I haven’t read any of the books (and I’m not planning on ever doing so either), but from all the reviews and descriptions that I’ve heard and read, I can safely say that these books are already available on film/video: it’s called “porn” (generally has a bad story, ridiculous characters with lots of kinky stuff going down – like the books) and can be found literally anywhere on the internet.

    • The sex stuff isnt that bad. They can keep it on the basic instinct level and show plenty. they are not a terrible read either. you can pic them up for about ten dollars u.s. give it a shot. plus you can read them with your significant other.

  9. Emma Watson is apparantly the lead in this film, should be interesting, I doubt she would ever do a film like this though

  10. If my GF drags me to this when i eventually forget about it i will leave her ! She pulled that stunt with The Hunger Games, no no, not again.

  11. pseudo sado maso crap like 9 1/2 weeks. nothing for me. i´ve just read in a magazine that it is a housewifes or lonely female students sexual fantasy book. i hate erotic novels.

  12. I’ve read the books and there’s no way they’ll make it PG 13. Won’t happen.

  13. According to James, these books were not written for the teenage genre. They are erotic fiction for “adults”. Therefore the movies should be written for the audience they were intended to be for. There is no way this movie could ever have a PG-13 rating.

  14. I’ve read the first book and half-way through the second. The story line(s) are a bit light, but there is enough curiosity built up that I want to continue reading, not for the sex parts but to find out the answers to various questions deftly left unfinished, so far. I wouldn’t want to see a PG-13 version but rather an R. Anyone who’s read just the first book will surely feel betrayed if it’s toned down too much.

  15. I am a fan of the Fifty series… the grammar is horrendous, but that aside, it’s got a nice love story. With that being said, if these books are turned into PG-13 Twilight bopper movies, I will not go and watch them. The books are not for them. the movie shouldn’t be either. I don’t need a porn flick, and I don’t need EVERY sex scene in the book to be in the movie, because lets face it, there are just toooo many. There are so important sex scenes that need to make their way into the movies. If they show them starting, then fade out, that will piss off the crowd that made the books so popular, and they can forget about a sequel because people will be too angry.

  16. well, a movie should be interesting, but if the studios want it to be successful, the movie can’t and shouldn’t be PG-13, the books aren’t, so why the movie(s) should be.
    This is not Twilight, at all, and if they try to make this another series for teenagers, then for sure it will be a big failure…

    I’m intrigued about the cast though…

  17. Ok, let’s not forget the book has sold millions just in the US alone so yes a LOT of people have read this book. You would have to be living under a rock not to have heard of it. I would say mostly 18 to middle aged people also. I know this because me and all my girlfriends are that age. In fact there is a lot of talk about this book from people of all ages and big time anticipation for the movie. This movie will sell and sell big time as a rated R. Rated R would be more true to the book and give readers what they came to see and not just another teen movie. Not to mention the sales of the movie once it is on DVD. And NO, the contents of the movie would not keep anyone from going to see it. :)

  18. the series is awful. the author portrays bdsm in a disgustingly slanderous and inaccurate light. im horrified that they are making a movie out of this bloated piece of s***.

  19. why hasnt ROBIN THICKE been caste as Christian Grey.