EXCLUSIVE: Ending the wildest book-to-movie auction in recent and distant memory, Universal Picturesand Focus Features have acquired screen rights to E.L. James’ steamy novel Fifty Shades Of Grey. Focus Features will market and distribute the film in partnership with Universal, whose co-chairman Donna Langley heavily pursued the book.
I’d heard that 10 studio chiefs sweat it out all weekend to get the rights to this book about a 21-year-old college student who starts a relationship with a late-20s wealthy and handsome entrepreneur who leads her partner into an S&M and bondage deal where she is his submissive and keeps his emotions repressed. The relationship between Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey deepens in Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed.
I’m not hearing a specific winning bid amount, but I think if you go back to The Da Vinci Code, which sold for around $3 million or a bit higher against 3.5% of gross, this is comparable to what Universal has paid for Fifty Shades of Grey. 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. Universal looked at the property as an IP as opposed to simply a book. Clearly, the author and her agent weren’t looking to take the money and run........
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The auction for Fifty Shades of Grey is over.
Universal and Focus partnered to beat out a slew of studios, producers and financiers to nab the rights to the E.L. James’ erotic best-seller and its two follow-ups.
Universal picked up the rights to the books, though specialty label Focus Features will market and distribute the film.
The full three-book story, which includes Fifty Shades Darkerand Fifty Shades Freed, details the erotic relationship between a damaged young billionaire and a naive female college graduate. Inspired by the Edward and Bella characters in Stephenie Meyer’s best-selling Twilight novels, it originally was posted online as fan fiction. Web interest led to an Australian publisher distributing the books.
Random House division Vintage Books picked up U.S. publishing rights to the trilogy March 10. Recently released in ebook format, Grey shot to the top of the New York Times and Amazon best-selling ebook lists, and Vintage plans to publish a paperback edition April 17.......
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