On July 24th, the highly anticipated trailer for the film adaption of bestseller E.L. James’, 50 Shades of Grey was released. A story about an innocent college girl who meets a billionaire who’s into BDSM, and the trouble that ensues, Fifty Shades will most definitely be number one at the box office when it opens on Valentines Day of 2015. Since the books made their official debut in 2012 and 2013, the 50 Shades Trilogy (Fifty Shades of Grey, Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed) has made headlines for being some of the raciest, controversial and most popular examples of erotic literature. Here are ten things you might not know about the book taking over the universe, starting with our libraries, bedrooms and next year, the big screen.
10. Fifty Shades of Merchandise
Capitalizing on the popularity of a book or movie is nothing new. Fifty Shades has spawned lots of different kinds of branding opportunities, some of which are sexy and others, not so much. The sexy stuff? Lingerie, panties, bras, stockings, negligees and of course, briefs for your very own Christian Grey. If you need help stripping down to your Fifty Shades skivvies, some Fifty Shades Wine will most certainly help. There are two blends, the aptly named White Silk and of course, Red Satin. The less sexy stuff? Robes, t-shirts, knit tops (boring!), hoodies (why?) and of course, board games. There’s also some unofficial merchandise including a 50 Shades of Kale cookbook because what’s more sexy than kale?
9. Fifty Shades of Fan Fiction?
Fifty Shades of Grey was first written as a work of fan faction on FF.net, about another extremely popular book and film series, Stephenie Myers’ Twilight. Originally called Master of The Universe, E.L. James used the pen name “Snowqueen’s Icedragon.” Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey are based on the iconic characters, Bella Swan and Edward Cullen. Because of the highly sexual nature of the story, James took the story down from the site and re-posted it on her own website, FiftyShades.com. She then edited the story, made it longer, and re-worked it as an original piece without any references to Twilight, but took it down shortly thereafter.
8. Fifty Shades of “Secret Fun For Moms”
After James re-tooled Master Of The Universe into a trilogy, the first part, Fifty Shades of Grey was released by a virtual publisher in Australia, called Writers’ Coffee Shop. In May 2011, it was released as an e-book and also available for print on demand. In September 2011, the second volume, Fifty Shades Darker was released and the third volume, Fifty Shades Freed was released in January 2012. The book was not widely marketed or highly publicized, but between word of mouth and book blogs, it started to gain a pretty big following. Dubbed “Mommy P**n” by the media, it ultimately became the fastest selling paperback of all time and has sold over 100 million copies worldwide.
7. Fifty Shades of Ca$h
In April 2012, Vintage books re-released the book and James was reportedly paid seven figures for the rights. The same month, Time Magazine listed James as one of the “100 Most Influential People in The World”. But the cash had only begun to flow. Even before the book was published, James sold the film rights for $5 million to Universal/Focus features. Between June 2012 and June 2013 alone, James raked in a jaw dropping $95 million, according to Forbes. She became the top selling author in world, with James Patterson one spot behind her, at $91 million.
6. Fifty Shades, But Two Versions
Because Fifty Shades is so erotic, graphic and downright naughty, the question that has been going through all of our minds is how filmmakers will shoot the sex scenes, and how graphic will they be? Will it be watered down so the film gets an R Rating? Or will they a risk and give it the NC-17 stamp of death? The answer you’ve been waiting for is both. Two versions of the film will be released. It’s a brilliant marketing scheme. Releasing an R rated version will not alienate any of the book’s audience, but true fans will of course want to see the grittier version. Even more so, with two versions, the studio is hoping audiences will want to view both.
5. Fifty Shades of Casting
The casting of the movie was one of the most talked about topics in Hollywood and beyond. Actresses who were reportedly considered to play Anastasia were Katie Holmes, Shailene Woodley, Alicia Vikander, Felicity Jones, Imogen Poots and Elizabeth Olsen. Shailene Woodley was actually the author’s first choice, but she passed on the film. The role ultimately went to Dakota Johnson. Many actors were considered for the role of Christian including Alexander Skarsgard, Ian Somerhalder, Matt Bomer, Theo James and Christian Cooke, but it went to Charlie Hunnam. Unfortunately, he had to drop out of the film, allegedly due to scheduling conflicts with the show, Sons of Anarchy. To much controversy, Jamie Dornan was re-cast as Christian Grey.
4. Fifty Shades of Stephanie Meyer
Stephanie Meyer, who wrote Twilight, has barely said fifty words about the book. Actually, she hasn’t even bothered to read it and said it was “too smutty” for her taste. “Erotica is not something I read. I don’t even read traditional romance,” she said. While she dismissed Fifty Shades, she did say nice things about fan fiction, “Anytime somebody is out there being creative, that’s great. I have read some fan fiction years ago and I found it really like, kind of cool. These people had these stories. I felt it was a little bit sad that they were doing them in a way where [the stories] weren’t theirs, but I feel like all those people, they’re practicing and their going to write their book, it’s going to come out of them eventually.”
3. Fifty Shades of Bad Writing
Despite record-breaking sales, Fifty Shades has not been well received critically, not just because it was fan fiction and probably not only because of the subject matter, but because it is very poorly written. James’ atrocious use of synonyms and awful word choices from using “big words” to just misusing words, has been widely noted all over the internet. Her repetitive use of many words and phrases including “white linen shirt,” “more,” “He grasps it and tugs,” “scowl,” and “in that way” permeate the language of the book. Even simple sentences such as “My very small inner goddess sways in a gentle victorious samba” and “The orange juice tastes divine. It’s thirst-quenching and refreshing,” leave the reader asking themselves only one thing: why?
2. Fifty Shades of Parody
Not surprisingly, Fifty Shades has spurred its own fan fiction and parodies. Some of the titles include Fifty Shades of Twilight, Fifty Shades of Gay and Fifty Shades of Greyhound. There are even two plays currently in production based on the book, Fifty Shades: The Musical, and Fifty Shades of Oy Vey. There are also seemingly endless videos of celebs reading and parodying the book, including Selena Gomez (Fifty Shades of Blue), George Takei, Zach Galifianakis, Will Ferrell, Kristen Stewart and terrifyingly, even Gilbert Gottfried has jumped on board the grey train.
1. Fifty Shades of Changed Sex Lives
Not surprisingly, a popular book about sex would influence people’s sex lives, even some celebrities. Jenny Mollen, who is the wife of Jason Biggs, wrote an essay in Cosmopolitan about how the story has breathed new life into hers. Sales of rope and sex toys have dramatically increased since the mainstream debut of the book. But this “Mommy P**n” isn’t all fun and games for everyone. The BDSM community is up in arms because they don’t think the practice is accurately or fairly portrayed.
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