BREAKING: Mike DeLuca and Dana Brunetti have been tapped to produce Fifty Shades Of Grey, the Universal Pictures/Focus Features movie adaptation of the bestselling steamy trilogy. De Luca and Brunetti (who runs Kevin Spacey’s Trigger Street production company) teamed on The Social Network and Captain Phillips, the Paul Greengrass-directed film that stars Tom Hanks. The studio has just confirmed the hire, which came after a round of meetings with author E.L. James and her British agent Valerie Hoskins that involved a number of high level producers. Led by co-chairman Donna Langley, Universal won a heated bidding battle for screen rights to the trilogy, which sold in a multimillion dollar deal. Langley and De Luca go back a long way, to when Langley was a production executive at New Line and De Luca was president of production. De Luca most recently was a producer of Moneyball. They will now figure out who’ll write and direct the film, and star in what will be an R-rated adult-themed film. There has been keen interest, including an informal conversation with Angelina Jolie about directing it (the studio was impressed by her helming debut, In The Land Of Blood And Honey.)
The book has become a runaway bestseller, with sales approaching 20 million copies so far. That is a whopping amount, considering the subject is an S&M romantic relationship between a young entrepreneur and a younger woman. Here’s the release:
LOS ANGELES, CA, July 9, 2012—Universal Pictures and Focus Features today announced that veteran producers Michael De Luca and Dana Brunetti will produce Fifty Shades of Grey. De Luca and 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.
In March, Universal Pictures and Focus Features announced the acquisition of rights to the entire Fifty Shades Trilogy with Focus Features marketing and distributing the first film in partnership with Universal. To date, Vintage Books has sold 31 million e-book and print copies of the trilogy in English-language markets worldwide. In the U.S. alone, the “Fifty Shades” trilogy has sold over 20 million copies in e-book and print making it one of the fastest selling book series ever.
“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 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 Schamus.
As an award-winning producer, De Luca has made his mark on some of the most critically-acclaimed films of the last few years including 2011’s Best Picture nominee Moneyball starring Brad Pitt as Oakland A’s former general manager, Billy Beane. Brunetti and De Luca served together as producers with Scott Rudin and Cean Chaffin on The Social Network which earned critical accolades, including an Academy Award® nomination for Best Picture. Brunetti and De Luca are collaborating with Scott Rudin on the upcoming Tom Hanks’ film Captain Phillips, the true story of a cargo ship captain held hostage by Somali pirates and rescued by Navy SEALs. Other film credits for De Luca include I Am Sam, Blow, Magnolia, Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me, Wag the Dog, American History X and Boogie Nights. Additional film credits for Brunetti include Casino Jack, 21, Fanboys, Beyond The Sea and Safe.
“I am thrilled that Mike has joined Team Fifty,” said E L James. “He brings a passion for and in-depth understanding of the characters and story, and a wealth of experience in making quality films.”
“Dana and I are both grateful and honored to be invited to join this team,” said De Luca. “We deeply respect and admire the kinds of films Donna, James and Jeb have been responsible for and are very excited to be joining Erika in a collaboration to bring her vision of this once in a lifetime, provocative and resonant love story to the screen.”
“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.