The big studios' bidding wars to acquire the rights to E.L. James' book "Fifty Shades of Grey" are over. It has been confirmed that Universal Pictures and Focus Features have emerged as the winning bidders that have secured the rights to distribute the feature adaptation of the erotic novel.
The studios plan to develop a trilogy based on the novel and its two sequels. Of the newly signed partnership, Focus' chief James Shamus said, "At its core, this is a romance of the most emotionally resonant, but delicate, order - and we look forward to working with our colleagues at Universal to transform E.L. James' vision into a great film."
Rumor has it, Universal and Focus have agreed to pay author James $5 million for the agreement. Asked why she decided to sell her novel to the studios, James jokingly admitted that it was simply because Focus' president of production Jeb Brody had made her laugh. She told Entertainment Weekly, "I really like clever men who challenge you. And with Jeb, I thought, yeah, I can work with that!"
"We went with Focus because they have a great background in handling difficult material," the English author added. "This makes me sound like a control freak, doesn't it?" It was reported that Focus gave her the approvals she wanted, including the script and casting.
As for the negotiations related to her book's sexually explicit content, James explained, "I think that's going to be a collaborative process. That's a big word in Hollywood, isn't it - PRO-cess." She added, "We always said that if we didn't find a fit, we'd pack our bags and go home. Seriously. We'd have a wonderful week in Hollywood and go home."
Being included in the New York Times bestseller list, "Fifty Shades of Grey" follows a 21-year-old female college student, Anastasia Steele, who has an S&M relationship with a wealthy entrepreneur named Christian Grey. Their relationship deepens in the book's sequels, "Fifty Shades Darker" and "Fifty Shades Freed".
The steamy novel has recently sparked frenzy in Hollywood when such producers as Brian Grazer, Adam Shankman, Scott Stuber, Doug and Lucy Wick, as well as Stacy Cramer were all courting James and her agent, Valeria Hoskins.