Mike Fleming

RELATED: Universal Shifts ‘Fifty Shades Of Grey’ Release By 6 Months, Sets It On Feb 13, 2015

The foreplay period seems to have taken forever to mobilize the Fifty Shades Of Grey film, but Universal Pictures and Focus Features appear to have made a smart move pushing it from August 1, 2014 to February 13, 2015. They will market this kinky sexual relationship film as a date night movie coinciding with Valentine’s Day. And in 2015 that weekend runs into President’s Day, giving the sexy film a four-day weekend to establish staying power. Perhaps more important are the global ramifications for the film. The book series has sold around 70 million copies around the world, and the studio is smartly bypassing the World Cup. That tournament is still more a curiosity than an obsession in the U.S., but studios have learned to not release big films during the tournament, because nobody cares about anything but soccer. While the summer tournament will have climaxed by August 1, the fear was that audiences will still be too preoccupied with soccer balls to re-focus on Ben Wa Balls and the other naughty accessories that British author E. L. James introduces in her steamy trilogy. Better to give some heavy breathing room for the story of Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson), who finds the perfect guy in Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan), only to discover that past trauma in his life limits him to engaging in a love relationship where one partner dominates and the other is submissive. While the promotional tie-ins seem endless–how about a line of Red Bull called Red Ball?–there will be no association with any of that tawdry stuff, which is also smart.  They’ve got a script by Kelly Marcel (I saw the Marcel-scripted Saving Mr. Banks last night, and it is an elegant and moving character study), with Nowhere Boy‘s Sam Taylor-Johnson directing, and Social Network‘s Michael De Luca and Dana Brunetti producing. It’s a top shelf team.