Fifty Shades of Grey

Is it true that the people behind The Social Network are going to do Fifty Shades of Grey? Is that book even adaptable?!
—Sunday, via the inbox

Yep. The Hollywood Reporter confirms that Michael de Luca and Dana Brunetti, who worked together on the Oscar-winning Jesse Eisenberg movie The Social Network, are gearing up to bring E.L. James' novel to the big screen.

Universal, which has the rights to the book, has said that a "delicate and sophisticated hand" is needed here. (The book could have used one, too, but I digress.)

So could this movie possibly be any good?

I spoke to several people who would know, and they said there's no reason why a 50 Shades film won't win over general audiences and make a ton of money.

As long the book is completely ripped apart. Or something to that effect.

"The only way to make it into a crowd-pleasing film that will earn all of its money back is to pretty much tear everything out of the book," says author and screenwriter Christopher Farnsworth, whose Nathaniel Cade vampire series is being adapted for both the big and little screens.

Of course the movie could be crafted strictly for older audiences. But with that choice comes a price.

"Yes, you could make another 9 1/2 Weeks," Farnsworth mulls, referring the 1986 erotic romance starring Kim Basinger. "But those movies don't historically make a lot of money. Studios don't want to make so many R-rated films. They want to make PG films that a lot of people can see."

(E! and Universal Pictures are both part of the NBCUniversal Family.)

That said, Farnsworth points out that other books have been gutted on their way to the big screen, with decent success—the Angelina Jolie film Wanted, for example.

And if the budget for this film is small enough, there's no reason why it couldn't weather an R rating and still make a long-term profit. Especially if the flick sticks with the book's main theme, which, when you strip away all the stripping, really is as mainstream as it gets.

"It's the classic big love story—the powerful man who sort of plucks out this seemingly ordinary woman, and falls in love with her and makes her special," romance author Beatriz Williams tells me. "That's emotional crack for women. We're hardwired to love this stuff."

All that said, it's still way too soon to know for sure which direction the movie will go. Although the journey should be...interesting.

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