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