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 »
The fast pace of digital-age reporting means a lot of half-truths and half-baked conversations being reported as fact. First, I’ve gotta call bullshit on these recent reports (sorry, PMC-owned sister publication Hollywood Life) that Alex Pettyfer has been set to … Read More »
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 … Read More »
Fifty Shades Of Grey has made it open season for online erotic fan fiction. After Tara Sue Me (with a name like that, you’ve got to be a feisty writer) began posting what she calls The Submissive Trilogy and got more than 8.5 million views, New American Library closed a fat three-book deal before you could say “Bring out the gimp.” Now we’ll have to see if those studios that missed out on Fifty Shades Of Grey jump on this one. Here’s the news:
New York, NY, February 14, 2013—New American Library (NAL), an imprint of Penguin Group (USA), will publish Tara Sue Me’s fan fiction sensation, the Submissive Trilogy, it was announced today by NAL Publisher Kara Welsh. Claire Zion, Vice President and Editorial Director of NAL, acquired World print and e-book rights to the trilogy in a deal with Red Publishing (Australia). NAL will make the entire series available in the U.S. for the first time.
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Universal wants the hardcore adaptation of Fifty Shades Of Grey shut down and stopped immediately as it takes on the producers in court. Following up on their initial trademark infringement lawsuit of late November, Universal City Studios and book rights holder Fifty Shades Ltd filed a request Tuesday (read it here) for a preliminary injunction against Smash, the producers of Fifty Shades Of Grey: A XXX Adaptation. “Plaintiffs ask this Court to enjoin the marketing, sale, and distribution of Defendants’ infringing adaptation of the Fifty Shades Trilogy, a quickly and cheaply produced pornographic work that is likely to cause Plaintiffs irreparable harm by poisoning public perception of the Fifty Shades Trilogy and the forthcoming Universal films,” says the motion filed Tuesday in federal court. An April 1 hearing has been requested on the motion. The plaintiffs claimed in their suit late last year that Smash’s film, which clearly does call itself an “adaptation” in its title, uses “exact dialogue, characters, events, story and style from the Fifty Shades trilogy.” Universal and Focus Features picked up the rights to E.L. James’ best-selling softcore novels in a heated bidding war back in March for more than $3 million.
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Universal says the porn movie Fifty Shades Of Grey: A XXX Adaptation is a “blatant trademark infringement” on its rights to E.L. James’ bestselling Fifty Shades Of Grey books and it wants Smash Pictures’ hardcore film neutered. “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,” says Universal City Studios and Fifty Shades Ltd, the owner of the book rights, in a lawsuit (read it here) filed earlier this week. Unlike the usual porn parody of Hollywood movies, the plaintiffs claim in their detailed suit that Smash’s XXX film, which does call itself an “adaptation” in its title, uses “exact dialogue, characters, events, story and style from the Fifty Shades trilogy.” Universal and Focus Features picked up rights to the softcore novels in a heated bidding war back in March for over $3 million. Kelly Marcel was chosen last month to write the screenplay.
Related: Mike De Luca, Dana Brunetti To Produce ‘Fifty Shades Of Grey’
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The “presentation was not the way it needed to be,” President Obama told Jon Stewart on The Daily Show today about his first debate performance against Mitt Romney. Obama claimed he had an “off night” on October 3, according to White House pool reports covering the president’s interview, which is scheduled to air tonight on Comedy Central. In his sixth visit to the faux-news show and second since becoming president, Obama also talked about the bestselling erotic novel Fifty Shades Of Grey as well as national security and economic issues. There’s been a brouhaha over Obama today clinically saying, “if four Americans get killed, it’s not optimal.” However, the transcript of the exchange shows that Stewart used the word “optimal” in his question about the killing of the U.S. Ambassador to Libya and three others in early September and that’s what the President was responding to. Obama’s latest turn on the show comes while he in NYC for fundraisers and the annual Al Smith Dinner, where he and Romney will speak tonight. Here’s the condensed and edited pool report of the interview:
Daily show staff said the studio holds about 220 people in the live audience, and the show is taping about 2 1/2 hours earlier than the normal 6 -6:30 p.m. taping to accommodate POTUS. Potus sat for two segments with Jon Stewart of roughly seven minutes apiece, broken up by a commercial break. … He sat across from Stewart at the interview desk with two blue mugs on it. Obama did not remove the lid from his. The president spoke on topics ranging from the choice between him and Romney to the political gridlock in Washington to Benghazi to Guantanamo.
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UPDATE: Universal has just confirmed Deadline’s scoop. I am publishing the release below the original story break.
EXCLUSIVE: In a competition that was almost as heated as the subject matter, Kelly Marcel has been chosen by Universal Pictures and Focus Features to write the script for Fifty Shades Of Grey, the E.L. James publishing phenomenon that has sold 32 million books in the U.S. alone. James had a major say in determining who got to write the script, and she made the choice along with Universal co-chairman Donna Langley (who won one of the most heated book rights auctions in recent memory); the Focus Features production team; and the film’s producers, Mike De Luca and Dana Brunetti.
Marcel got the job off of her script Saving Mr. Banks, the story of Walt Disney’s long courtship of author P.L. Travers’ novel Mary Poppins. That script is being turned into a big movie at Disney, with John Lee Hancock directing, Tom Hanks playing Disney and Emma Thompson playing Travers. Marcel is repped by WME and Casarotto Ramsay & Associates.
Related: Mike De Luca, Dana Brunetti To Produce ‘Fifty Shades Of Grey’
Marcel’s work showed an emotional maturity and grace that made the principals believe she was the right choice to write a script that is tricky. While there is steamy sex, and that has helped catapult the book to global phenomenon status, there is an intricate emotional dynamic to the principal characters, the business magnate Christian Grey and the recent college graduate Anastasia Steele. That dynamic is what the studio hopes will fuel at least three compelling films, as the studio also acquired the two follow-up novels Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed. The deal was made back in March for over $3 million. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: In the latest female-driven erotic novel to steam up the publishing crowd, Sasha Grey‘s fiction debut, an erotic novel titled The Juliette Society, has a U.S. deal with Beth de Guzman at Grand Central Publishing, and Catherine Burke of Little, Brown has snapped it for the UK. The book is being described as Fight Club set in a highly sexualized world with an assertive female protagonist.
Related: Cliterature Cash: Maya Banks Gets 7-Figures For ‘Fifty Shades’-Like Erotic Book Trilogy
While there continue to be a host of female-driven erotic novels following on the heels of the humungous global sales of Fifty Shades Of Grey, this book might have a leg up in that the author certainly knows the terrain. Sasha Grey is one of the most recognized names in the adult entertainment industry even though it has been four years since she stopped the kind of acting that requires horizontal emoting. She starred in Steven Soderbergh’s The Girlfriend Experience and played Vinnie Chase’s porn-star girlfriend in a season of HBO’s Entourage, acquitting herself nicely in both roles. Now, she’s put pen to paper. Read More »
The 30 million or so readers who bought the Fifty Shades Of Grey books aren’t the only ones getting hot and bothered over the burgeoning genre of Cliterature, as good a name as any for the bevvy of bodice-ripping ripoffs of E.L. James.
Publishers continue to pant trying to find the next Titillating Trifecta, and Berkley Books thinks it might have one in a deal just made with author Maya Banks. Cindy Hwang, Executive Editor of Berkley, consummated a World English trilogy deal worth seven-figures with Kimberly Whalen of Trident Media Group. Whalen also sold Italian rights to Mondadori in a pre-emptive deal and audio rights have been pre-empted by Brilliance Audio in a six-figure pact, with several other foreign-rights deals imminent. They are smartly reminding people that Banks was writing for the heavy-breather crowd before James, who was in the TV business in England when she started writing Twilight Saga fan fiction and instead turned it into an adult tale that has made her the second coming of Harry Potter‘s JK Rowling, only with James focusing on billionaire Christian Grey’s magic wand. Read More »
Shares in Barnes & Noble were trading up ahead of the opening bell today as the company reported fiscal 2013 Q1 results. The bookseller’s consolidated Q1 net loss narrowed 28% to $41M as compared to a … Read More »
Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games trilogy is now Amazon’s top-selling book series of all time, outselling the seven-book Harry Potter series, the online retailer announced today. That takes both physical and e-books into consideration. Hunger Games achieved … Read More »
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 … Read More »
Alexander Skarsgard said today that he hasn’t been offered a role in the film adaption of E.L. James’ best selling Fifty Shades of Grey. “I haven’t read the book and I haven’t seen a script,” said the … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: 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 … Read More »
The stunning multimillion-dollar sale of the E.L. James erotic novel Fifty Shades Of Grey to Universal Pictures and Focus Features might have a lasting impact on the business of evaluating cinematic potential of books. The last time I’ve felt this kind of ripple was when there was a stampede for the Nicholas Evans novel The Horse Whisperer, which went to Disney in the late 1990s for $3 million in a four-studio bidding war. I recall that some studios caught flatfooted made a concerted effort to build up New York operations, and I won’t be surprised to see it happen again.
In my interview with Fifty Shades agent Valerie Hoskins, she noted that Gotham-based studio executives discovered the material early, and helped whip studios into a slow building frenzy, even before The New York Times called it “mommy porn” and really got Hollywood hot and bothered. Times have been tough for New York-based executives as studios cut back on exec staffing and overall producing deals. They also pretty much stopped paying big sums for books. The longest-running dedicated Gotham-based studio office, Paramount Pictures, shuttered its office after the retirement of Patricia Burke, long an influential matriarch of tasteful material. Her deputy Aimee Shieh took over, but eventually Adam Goodman shut it down, and now Nan Shipley is a non-exclusive scout who also scouts for Playtone. Sony Pictures has a dedicated office, run by creative executive Mark James; Fox has a four-person office, run by Drew Reed; Universal has an office run by Erin Hennicke. New Regency has Michelle Kroes. All of those operations were crowing about Fifty Shades way back in December. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Just about every studio in town waged a concerted courtship for the movie rights to the E.L. James salty romance novel Fifty Shades Of Grey, and all but one today is feeling the sting of being jilted after the author and agent Valerie Hoskins went to the altar with Universal Pictures and Focus Features. Rumors raced all weekend that with 10 studios bidding, numbers passed $5 million upfront against a back end 5% or higher. Neither Universal nor Hoskins would divulge how much Universal co-chairman Donna Langley paid — when I broke the story this morning, I’d heard that it was a bit higher than the $3 million against 3.5% Sony paid for The Da Vinci Code, but many suitors figure it had to be around $4 million against as much as 5% of gross. If the picture sparks a trilogy, that is life-changing money for the former TV executive-turned-author. Since this was the wildest book auction in years and so many heavy hitters spent the weekend obsessing over it, I wanted to get the play-by-play from Hoskins, the British agent who, it turns out, is a real spitfire. I caught her just before she boarded a plane back across the pond with James, who left with a seven-figure publishing deal in one pocket, and a seven-figure movie rights deal in the other.
DEADLINE: Hollywood hasn’t seen a book rights auction like this since…
HOSKINS: It was not an auction.
DEADLINE: Generally, when a property is placed on the block for bids and sells, it’s considered an auction, no?
HOSKINS: My understanding of an auction is something that goes to the highest bidder. I can’t think of a better word for our process but it was not an auction.
DEADLINE: Does that mean you left bigger offers on the table?
HOSKINS: No comment.
DEADLINE: During this auction, the book was characterized in a number of ways that included ‘Mommy Porn.’ What would you call it?
HOSKINS: It’s a love story. People fall in love and they rabidly have sex, because that’s what you do when you fall in love. You do, you do! It’s a love story, a romantic one. I don’t really like the phrase ‘Mommy Porn.’ I guess I don’t mind it that much, but I don’t like it. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: 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 … Read More »