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Dakota Johnson Lands ‘Fifty Shades Of Grey’ Role

By | Monday September 2, 2013 @ 8:11am PDT
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: The coveted role of Anastasia Steele has gone to Dakota Johnson in the Universal Pictures and Focus Features adaptation of Fifty Shades Of Grey.

Johnson, who is the daughter of actors Don Johnson and Melanie Griffith, will star as the young college graduate who has a sexual awakening with Christian Grey, a young industrialist who takes her virginity. She falls in love with him, but his insistence she take the role of submissive and open herself to his S&M fantasies leaves her emotionally torn because otherwise he is the perfect guy. They’ve yet to cast Grey, and rumors have abounded about such actors as Sons Of Anarchy‘s Charlie Hunnam. Word on that is coming soon. [UPDATE: Hunnam has officially won the role.] The film will be released by Focus Features on August 1, 2014 in North America. It is being directed by Sam Taylor-Johnson and produced by Michael De Luca and Dana Brunetti alongside author E L James, whose erotic novel trilogy has sold over 70 million books worldwide. Kelly Marcel wrote the script.

The word about Ms. Johnson’s casting in Fifty Shades of Grey first came from the author. Johnson, who was among the young actresses rumored to be in the running has appeared in such films as The Social Network, on which De … Read More »

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TOLDJA! No Go On Joe Wright And ‘50 Shades Of Grey’

By | Monday May 13, 2013 @ 9:36am PDT
Mike Fleming

UPDATE, 9:36 AM: Forget the trade reports that Joe Wright will be director of Fifty Shades Of Grey. His schedule doesn’t work and he’s completely out of the mix, I’ve learned. The process of choosing a director for the global blockbuster book has just begun, and all Universal can hope is that audiences get as hot and bothered when the film is released, as journos are in spinning rumors based on little more than preliminary conversations.

PREVIOUS, FRIDAY AM: Gotta call bullshit on the spate of reports that say Joe Wright either has the directing job or is close to getting it on Fifty Shades Of Grey, the Focus/Universal adaptation of the E.L. James sexy novel trilogy. The script by Kelly Marcel is in, and there’s no question that Focus, Universal and producers Mike De Luca and Dana Brunetti are beginning the search for a director. Insiders tell me this process has just begun — I don’t think anyone has evaluated that spec scene that Gus Van Sant directed with Alex Pettyfer, the one that prompted some outlets to report the actor was set to play Christian Grey. It is too early to call a winner, or even assemble a real short list. Read More »

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Universal Reaches Settlement In ‘Fifty Shades Of Grey’ Porn Adaptation Suit

By | Monday March 11, 2013 @ 2:07pm PDT

The hot legal battle between Universal and a porn producer over a hardcore adaptation of Fifty Shades Of Grey has been settled in the studio’s favor. Universal, book rights holder Fifty Shades Ltd and Smash Pictures “have reached an agreement to settle this matter upon payment of a confidential sum by Smash Pictures to Plaintiffs and upon entry by the Court of a Stipulated Judgment for Permanent Injunction with respect to Plaintiffs’ claims for copyright and trademark infringement,” according to a short court notice (read it here). No actual sums were given in the settlement, reached Friday. Universal City Studios and Fifty Shades Ltd filed a trademark infringement lawsuit in late November against Smash for Fifty Shades Of Grey: A XXX Adaptation. “The first XXX adaptation is not a parody, and it does not comment on, criticize, or ridicule the originals. It is a rip-off, plain and simple,” said the plaintiffs. Universal and Focus Features picked up rights to the E.L. James-authored softcore novels in a heated bidding war  in March 2012 for more than $3 million. In late January, Universal City Studios and Fifty Shades Ltd filed a request for a preliminary injunction Read More »

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‘Fifty Shades’ Spawns Album

By | Tuesday August 7, 2012 @ 6:50am PDT
Mike Fleming

Author E.L. James, who was inspired by Stephenie Meyer’s The Twilight Saga to write Fifty Shades Of Grey, has in turn given the equivalent of literary Viagra to the steamy fiction genre. There are a ton of knockoffs in the offing, and just the other day I saw in Costo James’ trio of books, and right next to it another book with a similar-looking cover, obviously from a publisher trying to ride her coattails. Until Universal and producers Michael De Luca and Dana Brunetti name a screenwriter, get a script, a director and a cast to film the first movie, it seemed James would have to be content watching her books fly off the shelves, all over the world. Well, maybe not. James has curated an album that’s being released by EMI Classics, a group of 15 classical music tunes she feels should be heard by the panting masses who devour her sexy S&M saga of 27-year old billionaire entrepreneur Christian Grey and college student Anastasia Steele. The three books have sold 31 million copies worldwide, so that is a chance to move a lot of records with tunes that include Bach’s Jesu Joy of Man’s Desiring and Tallis’ Spem in Alium. The latter, a 16th Century tune, shot to the top of the UK classical music charts just because of the mere mention in the books.

Related: Mike De Luca, Dana Brunetti To Produce ‘Fifty Shades Read More »

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‘Fifty Shades Of Grey’ Heating Up With Angelina Jolie Talk

By | Thursday June 7, 2012 @ 5:10pm PDT
Mike Fleming

Fifty Shades Of GreyEXCLUSIVE: You know that the gazillion-selling steamy novel trilogy Fifty Shades Of Grey has reached outlandish proportions when The New York Post devotes today’s front cover to the idea that women are stocking up on ropes to be used for bondage purposes. All of this has apparently been spurred on by the kinky relationship between the couple in the book trilogy. Things are heating up on the movie front as well for Universal Pictures, which won a seven-figure auction to turn the three books into movies. I’ve heard rumors about the possibility of Angelilna Jolie having a conversation or two about directing it. This has been buzzing around for a couple of weeks. The studio says that no discussions have been had, but they note that if she was interested, that the studio would be also. They loved her directorial debut, In The Land Of Blood And Honey. As for Jolie, I’m told she’s completely focused on her next film, Maleficent, at Disney and isn’t entertaining other offers at this moment.

Related: Will Fifty Shades Of Grey Lead Studios To Rethink Gotham Outposts?

Things should begin taking shape on Fifty Shades Of Grey shortly. Author E.L. James and her agent, Valerie Hoskins, will be coming in from the UK to Hollywood shortly. They will then set a producer first, followed by setting a writer and filmmaker.

Related: Universal And Focus Features Win Read More »

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Miss Out On 2012′s Hottest Book Buy ‘Fifty Shades Of Grey?’ The Parody ‘Fifty Shames Of Earl Grey’ Now Being Shopped

By | Wednesday March 28, 2012 @ 12:26pm PDT
Mike Fleming

Fifty Shames Of Earl GreyEver since Deadline broke the story that Universal Pictures and Focus Features won screen rights to the E.L. James novel Fifty Shades Of Grey for in the neighborhood of $4 million against 5% of first dollar gross, the line of suitors who didn’t get it are treating it like the Lord Voldemort of auction titles — it’s the missed opportunity whose name must not be spoken. While buyers have moved on to the possible book franchise of the moment — Lissa Price’s YA body-switching title Starters – there might be another bite at the forbidden fruit of that S&M romance novel, which started as Twilight fan fiction, was rewritten by the author as an erotic romance trilogy, and became an e-book sensation that sparked multiple millions in publishing and film deals.

Related: ‘Fifty Shades Of Grey’ Has Hollywood Carpooling Read More »

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Universal Pictures And Focus Features Win ‘Fifty Shades Of Grey’

Mike Fleming

50 Shades Of Grey Universal Focus FeaturesEXCLUSIVE: Ending the wildest book-to-movie auction in recent and distant memory, Universal Pictures and 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 … Read More »

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9 Suitors Trying To Get In Bed With ’50 Shades Of Grey’

By | Friday March 23, 2012 @ 1:02pm PDT
Mike Fleming

50 Shades Of Grey E.L. JamesEXCLUSIVE: The auction is underway for author E.L. James’ steam potboiler 50 Shades of Grey. I’m told that offer sheets went out this morning. They include a strong list of approvals that studios usually don’t like to grant, but it hasn’t dampened the enthusiasm to land a title that spread like wildfire as an e-book, and which is envisioned as a movie that won’t need a high budget to pull off. I’m told that right now, Warner Bros, Paramount, Fox Searchlight, Sony Pictures, Universal, Paramount, New Regency, Mandate and Lionsgate/Summit Entertainment have made it to the lightning round and were invited to bid.

Will Steamy Novel ’50 Shades Of Grey’ Climax In 7-Figure Deal?
’50 Shades Of Grey’ Has Hollywood Carpooling

This comes after the author, a TV exec from Britain, and her agent Valerie Hoskins met studios, monied production companies and producers over the past week before sending out their requests. While they listed a bunch of creative controls, they naturally did not set a price tag on the book. It’s the first of a trilogy and I’m confident that someone will be writing a seven-figure check for this one.

Yesterday, they holed up at Soho House to meet a parade of producers, but I’m not hearing that any of them are attached to the bidding at this point. It’s a fun development; the last time I’ve seen anything like this was when Dan Brown’s … Read More »

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No Problem, We’ll Come To You! ‘50 Shades Of Grey’ Has Hollywood Carpooling

By | Thursday March 22, 2012 @ 4:22pm PDT
Mike Fleming

With Foreplay Almost Over, Will Steamy Novel ’50 Shades Of Grey’ Climax In 7-Figure Deal?

50 Shades Of Grey E.L. JamesThe stampede of studios, monied production companies and producers that want to get a piece of 50 Shades of Grey grew so feverish today that author E.L. James and her British lit agent Valerie Hoskins holed up at Soho House as a parade of producers came to them — a rarity for a first-time author. There was little choice, considering so many producers are vying for the opportunity to get assigned the book and the author and her agent never would have gotten those meetings done if they’d spent the day driving all over town. The meetings end today, and studios that met earlier in the week will know tomorrow if they’ve been invited to bid. Not since the heyday of John Grisham and Michael Crichton have studios done something like this. I wrote about this unprecedented courtship Tuesday, and if I left the impression that you had to be a female to get the significance of the steamy potboiler and the opportunity here, I shouldn’t have. While Sony Pictures, Universal and Fox 2000 are all over it, a lot of male executives want it just as badly.

Everyone from Warner Bros’ Greg Silverman, Lionsgate/Summit’s Rob Friedman, Paramount’s Brad Grey, and such producers as Lorenzo di Bonaventura, Arnon Milchan, Neal Moritz, Brian Grazer, Todd Garner and Adam Shankman all are … Read More »

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With Foreplay Almost Over, Will Steamy Novel ’50 Shades Of Grey’ Climax In 7-Figure Movie Deal?

By | Tuesday March 20, 2012 @ 1:53pm PDT
Mike Fleming

By Thursday, author E.L. James and her British lit agent Valerie Hoskins will have completed a surreal round of meetings with the heads of studios, monied production companies and top producers for screen rights to 50 Shades of Grey. The steamy potboiler e-book is about a 21-year old soon to be college graduate named Anastasia Steele, who starts an S&M relationship with Christian Grey, a handsome entrepreneur in his late twenties. He dominates her sexually and emotionally and makes her his submissive partner, even though he withholds his emotions. Tomorrow, a number of producers will court James and Hoskins, hoping to be attached at one of the studios that will be bidding on the novel, the first of a trilogy. Actual bidding is expected to take place on Friday, and trusted sources tell me that seven-figure offers will fly and that this will be the biggest book rights auction in a long time, coming at a time when studios find every reason not to spend big on books.

Why is the town so hot and bothered about what started as a self published e-book that flew under the radar until a Today Show segment and New York Times article turned up the heat? Those who don’t get it are scratching their heads and dismissing it as “mommy porn” and say while it will be aimed at the female demo that embraced … Read More »

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