50 Shades of Grey originated as an erotic Twilight fan-fiction series titled "Master of the Universe" (not kidding). E.L. James published her work online for a period of time, but eventually decided to rework her kinky Bella/Edward stories into an original piece - about the very adult relationship between college student Anastasia Steele and 27-year-old billionaire, Christian Grey.
The rest, as they say, is history. 50 Shades of Grey is a best-selling monster, and has spawned two sequels ("50 Shades Darker" and "50 Shades Freed"). James' three books have sold some 31 million copies in e-book and print form worldwide, breaking the Harry Potter series' record for fasted-selling paperbacks of all time (again, not kidding).
Universal Pictures and Focus Features secured the film rights to 50 Shades of Grey earlier this year, and now Oscar-nominated producers Dana Brunetti and Mike De Luca (The Social Network) have put in a bid to back the project. Here are the official statements from studio heads, professing confidence in the duo's ability to adapt James' novel (which is full of explicit sex scenes involving bondage, sadism, and masochism, among other things):
"At its core, 'Fifty Shades of Grey' is a complex love story, requiring a delicate and sophisticated hand to bring it to the big screen," said Universal Pictures Co-Chairman Donna Langley. “Mike and Dana’s credits more than exemplify what we need in creative partners and we’re glad to have them as part of our team.”
“Michael De Luca is a dream producer, whose combination of vision, taste and fearlessness is the perfect match for 'Fifty Shades of Grey',” said Focus Features' Chief Executive Officer James Schamus.
Early rumors about the potential writers and directors for the 50 Shades of Grey movie are (in many ways) as mind-boggling as the origins of James' original work. American Psycho author Bret Easton Ellis has lobbied for the opportunity to pen the screenplay, while Angelina Jolie's been reported as a potential contender to sit in the director's chair (take all that with a grain of salt, of course).
Brunetti and De Luca are going to have their hands full, convincing the masses that 50 Shades of Grey can turn out as anything but a glorified treatment of late-night adult entertainment you might find on Cinemax (ie. a "Skinemax" TV movie). The project is starting to move ahead full-steam now, and it will be... well, interesting to see how moviegoers respond - especially as more and more people learn about the history of the property (and its connection to the love-it-or-hate-it Twilight franchise).
Expect to hear more about 50 Shades of Grey in the future (whether you like it or not).