Universal Pictures Scores Movie Rights to BDSM Novel 'Fifty Shades of Grey'

Mar 27, 2012 3:45 PM PST

HOLLYWOOD, Calif. — Universal Pictures and Focus Features have emerged from a frenzied Hollywood studio bidding war with the movie rights to "Fifty Shades of Grey," a sexually-explicit, BDSM romance novel from British newcomer E.L. James.

While it's unknown what the rights sold for, Deadline.com is predicting a figure just north of $3 million, but notes that other studios put the sale at about $4 million against a 5% gross.

Regardless of what Universal paid, however, what James and her agent Valerie Hoskins sought and found was a collaborative environment in which maintaining the integrity of the book would be of utmost importance.

"The goal was to protect the material and its manifestations into movies," Hoskins told Deadline. "It is very sensitive material. It could become sleazy, it could become cheesy, it could end up looking like porn. It needs to be classy, sexy rather than full of sex."

"Fifty Shades of Grey" follows the bondage-happy, kink-fueled love affair between 27-year-old billionaire Christian Grey and 22-year-old college virgin Anastasia Steele. The relationship is deconstructed further in the sequels "Fifty Shades Darker" and "Fifty Shades Freed." 

Dubbed "Mommy Porn" by the NY Times for its appeal to women over 30, the Random House/Vintage book has become a runaway success much in the vein of Dan Brown's "The Da Vinci Code."

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