In recent weeks, it has been impossible to miss the news about how E.L. James’ Fifty Shades of Grey series has taken the reading world by storm. The three books follow the development of a dominant/submissive relationship between the jaded billionaire Christian Grey who is in his late twenties, and the young college student Anastasia Steele who he introduces into his world of sexual games. The books, which grew out of fan-fiction, quickly climbed the bestseller lists.
It’s unusual for an erotica series, especially one with BDSM elements, to capture the attention of mainstream readers. And adding to the buzz is the fact that the trilogy started out as e-books and won international favor through word of mouth and recommendations. Just two weeks ago, the Random House offshoot Vintage purchased the rights to re-publish the series, and now the movie rights to the series first, Fifty Shades of Grey, have been purchased by Universal Pictures and Focus Features.
Rumors swirled around Hollywood that almost a dozen studios were pursuing the project. And while the insiders at Deadline.com were not able to pinpoint the exact amount that the rights sold for, they project that it was within the same ballpark as those for Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code, which was purchased for $3 million plus 3.5% of the film’s gross profit.
And in an almost unprecedented turn of events, the movie deal also included the caveat that author James and her agent will be heavily involved in the creative process as the book becomes a film. According to the Deadline.com article, the agreement is thus:
“The author and agent set approvals over things like script, director and lead cast, but they did not insist on a quick progress to production or even a guarantee that all three films would be made. Instead, their priority was to take their time and get it right as they target this love story explored through sexual politics, aimed at women 25-65.”
As the production companies will be working closely with the author, our fingers are crossed that the parties can reach agreement quickly about these major decisions about the bones of the movie. (And speaking of bodies, we assume that due to the nature of the books, the movies will all carry NC-17 or X ratings.) Our hopes are high that the result will be movies that will be as similar as possible to the author’s vision.
However, that certainly hasn’t kept us from playing “casting director” for the upcoming film. Our early picks around the RT office are:
As Christian Grey …
He’s been Captain Kirk’s dad in the Star Trek reboot, wowed us as the superhero Thor and will win Kristen Stewart’s heart in the upcoming Snow White and the Huntsman film. So why not have him play the dominant Christian?
He’s got the accent. He’s got the looks. And even though he usually stars in romantic comedies (like Chasing Liberty and Leap Year) we would love to see Goode get a meatier role.
Starting off as a child actor, Gordon-Levitt is one of those rare talents who successfully managed the move into more adult roles. In (500) Days of Summer he showed he is willing to take on unusual roles and in Inception he proved acting chops. We say he’s ready to play this complex character.
As Anastasia Steele …
This pretty young starlet who is currently part of the cast of the TV show Medium may be blonde rather than brunette, but she’s certainly got Anastasia’s vulnerability. (And fresh off the popular adaptation of The Hunger Games, where we saw Jennifer Lawrence become a brunette, we’re confident that a bit of hair dye could have her looking more like what we saw in our minds’ eye.)
This actress certainly captures Anastasia’s innocent looks, but she also comes complete with the forthright gaze that we can see Christian really responding to. And because she’s already played the titular Alice from the 2010 Alice in Wonderland, we know that this actress does an excellent job of emoting when playing a character that is out of her depth but determined to keep moving forward!
Kendrick is one of our top choices to play the part of Anastasia, however we’d be surprised if this actress got the role. (One of the frequent criticisms of James’ series is that it grew out of a piece of Twilight saga fan-fiction. So selecting Bella’s friend from the Twilight saga movies to play a character based on an “all grown up” Bella might just be feeding fuel to the fire.)
When any more details about the upcoming film are announced, we will be sure to let you know. And for more news about film adaptations in the works, be sure to click here.