20-year-old Shailene Woodley (“The Descendants”) has reportedly “caught the eye” of “50 Shades of Grey” author E.L. James as a possible candidate for the role of Anastasia Steele. While landing such a franchise would be the Holy Grail for most actors, going nude in an S & M flick might give some pause. But “Twilight” producer Marty Bowen asserts: “The next big stars are the actress who plays Anastasia Steele and the actor who plays Christian Grey.”
Certainly “50 Shades” will be a different animal than “Twilight.” Even tastefully done, erotica is a tall and possibly compromising order for a young actor who isn’t established as a marquee name, and not everyone offered the role will go for it. Also, while sparkly vampires and wistful gazes have proven bankable for the “Twilight” franchise, it’s yet to be seen whether the hard-R intimacy of “50 Shades” will translate into box office bucks. America’s women love reading about handcuffs and rough sex, but do they want to see it onscreen?
Meanwhile, as Universal and “The Social Network” producers Michael De Luca and Dana Brunetti look for just the right screenwriter for the screen adaptation, the fans are happily laying out their preferences for the two lovers. Many have chimed in on our message boards: Bradley Cooper! Henry Cavill! Matt Bomer! And Angelina Jolie has reportedly shown an interest in directing the project. After a Golden Globe nomination for “In the Land of Blood and Honey,” Jolie would bring a needed prestige level to the first installment of the series.
Although the ultimate profibitlity of the film version of “50 Shades” is up for debate, there’s no question that the global bestseller has had an impact on the culture. The trilogy currently occupies the top three spots on the New York Times bestseller list. In an article for Publishers Weekly, Rachel Deahl looks at the erotica bandwagon publishers are jumping on with abandon. Deahl writes: “The promise — ‘if you like ’50 Shades of Grey,’ you’ll like this’ — is one that publishers are making in ever greater numbers.”
So far this logical jump seems to be paying off: Sylvia Day’s “Bared to You,” another originally self-published erotic novel aimed at women, is sitting in the number-four spot on the NY Times paperback trade fiction bestseller list. Penguin, whose Berkley label handles “Bared,” is courting more erotica. Sylvia Reynard’s “Gabriel’s Inferno” and “Gabriel’s Rapture” have been picked up by the publishing house, and feature a male lead character similar to Christian Grey. And publisher Mira released longstanding erotic author Tiffany Reisz’ “The Siren” on July 31 with an announced first printing of 60,000 copies, plus a reading event set up with the tellingly titled bookgroup “DivaMoms,” who had James read for them early on in the “50 Shades” hysteria.