The Fifty Shades of Grey Movie Will Be NC-17, Says Screenwriter

Slate's Culture Blog
Jan. 8 2013 6:12 PM

What To Expect From the Fifty Shades of Grey Movie

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Fifty Shades of Grey

Vintage Books

Last year’s S&M-riddled bookselling phenomenon 50 Shades of Grey is on its way to the big screen. This, of course, raises a variety of questions—such as, who will play the “kinky Seattle tycoon” Christian Grey? In an interview with the style magazine of the London Times, the adaptation’s screenwriter, Kelly Marcel, says she gets that question “roughly 300 times a day.”

A more interesting question, perhaps, is how the book’s explicit scenes between Grey and its young heroine, Ana, can possibly be translated to the big screen. The answer to that one? Make the movie NC-17.

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Appropriately aged fans can expect to see a relatively faithful cinematic retelling of the couple’s sexual escapades, according to Marcel. “There is going to be a lot of sex in the film,” she adds. “It’s going to be raunchy.”

We can still only speculate about director and casting choices. Regardless of those creative decisions, though, an NC-17 rating almost assures that the film will not make an especially big splash at the box office. The highest-grossing NC-17 film of all-time is Showgirls, which made a relatively paltry $20 million (almost twice as much as the next highest-grossing movie in that category, Henry & June).

On the other hand, no one would have expected an S&M novel that began as Twilight fan fiction to become such a phenomenon that its American publisher would give every one of its employees (“from top editors to warehouse workers”) a $5,000 Christmas bonus.

So really, who knows? Maybe the movie version will beat the odds, too.

Aisha Harris is a Slate staff writer.

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