'50 Shades of Gray' rights sold to Universal and Focus Features


Producer Jeb Brody poses at the 32nd Deauville Festival Of American Film. Brody's Focus Features has won the rights to the bestselling erotic novel "50 Shades of Gray."


Francois Durand

The bestselling erotic novel "50 Shades of Gray" will be adapted for the screen by Universal and its arthouse sister company Focus Features, after igniting a bidding war amongst Hollywood's top production companies, Deadline News reported

Focus Features' president of production Jeb Brody won over the book's author, who writes under the pseudonym EL James, with his sense of humor, Entertainment Weekly reported

“I really like clever men who challenge you, and with Jeb, I thought, yeah, I can work with that!” James told Entertainment Weekly. 

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Despite hearing pitches from studio executives all week (and receiving a staggering bid of $9 million for the trilogy of novels from New Regency, the Chicago Tribune reported) James and her agent Valerie Hoskins chose Focus "because they have a great background in handling difficult material,” and also because the studio gave the author control over the script and casting decisions, according to Entertainment Weekly. 

Universal reportedly paid $4 million for the first novel against $5 million from the box-office gross, according to the Tribune, and built in provisions to option the next two novels. 

"50 Shades of Gray" is a love story about Anastasia Steele, a 21-year-old college student who starts a relationship with Christian Grey, a wealthy and handsome entrepreneur who leads her into the world of S&M, according to Deadline News. The sequels "50 Shades Darker" and "50 Shades Freed" delve further into the couple's relationship. 

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“Like so many readers all over the globe, we've fallen in love with 'Fifty Shades of Grey'," Universal Pictures chairman Adam Fogelson and Universal co-chairman Donna Langley said in a joint statement, the Christian Science Monitor reported. “It's a special story and working with Focus, we hope to bring audiences a film they can enjoy as much as they loved the book.”

Though a film version of the bestseller makes sense, some wonder how the erotic story’s events will be adapted to the screen and yet still stay within the limits of an R rating, according to CSM. 

“I think that’s going to be a collaborative process,” James told Entertainment Weekly. 

[View the story "Universal, Focus Features buy rights to erotic fan fiction \"50 Shades of Gray\"" on Storify]

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