Just How Much Sex Is in ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’?

Fifty Shades of Grey

From the beginning, Fifty Shades of Grey provided Hollywood with a tricky conundrum: It’s a story that’s all about sex, being adapted by an industry that’s notoriously skittish about sex. Focus Features and director Sam Taylor-Johnson eventually split the difference by going with an R rating rather than the once-promised NC-17. But there’s still a lot of room for interpretation in that R rating. So just how much screwing is that, really?

The talk about Fifty Shades of Grey‘s sex scenes has been all over the map as Taylor-Johnson, author E.L. James, and their stars promote the movie. But now an unconfirmed report indicates that sex will comprise about 20 minutes of the film, or one-fifth of its 100-minute running time. More on the Fifty Shades of Grey sex scenes after the jump.

Fifty Shades of Grey will be so, so sexy!

The 20-minute tally comes from Mr. Skin (via The Sunday Times). According to the site, which tracks nudity in movies, that makes Fifty Shades the raunchiest film in a decade, with more sex in it than the 100 raunchiest films of 2014 combined. That’s a lot of sex, even if it’s not as much as the (probably wildly overestimated) “50/50” sex / non-sex split that Taylor-Johnson previously guessed.

(For what it’s worth, the 20-minute figure has since been disputed by Universal, though the studio won’t confirm exactly how much of the movie consists of sex scenes.)

But not so sexy that it’s, like, actual porn.

Whether it’s 20 minutes or 50 minutes, though, Taylor-Johnson wants to stress that the naughty bits of Fifty Shades are “not gratuitous,” but “integral” to the narrative. “I didn’t want it to be graphically explicit,” she told The Daily Mail. “It’s the build up and titillation of touch and sensuality. So I don’t think it goes into the realm of porn.”

Actually, it might not be sexy at all.

Star Jamie Dornan took it even further. “I just wouldn’t use the word ‘erotic’ — it brings up different ideas for me,” he said of Fifty Shades of Grey, a movie that people are only planning to watch because it promises to be erotic. “I just think we tried to make a good picture, you know?” The actor has also previously admitted that he won’t be going full-frontal in the movie, no doubt to the disappointment of many fans.

Only it totally will be!

On the flip side, Taylor-Johnson also doesn’t want people to think Fifty Shades will be totally tame. “It’s a Hollywood movie, but it’s going to be extreme for that world,” she said to Porter magazine (via Page Six). “It’s going to be pretty sexually explicit because, let’s face it, we know what this book is about. It’s a sexual journey.”

No really, it’s gonna be crazy hot. And kinky!

She further revealed to the magazine that to prep for this “extreme” journey, they brought in professionals. “Jamie had an on-set dominatrix to show him how it all worked, and I had a female dominatrix who helped me enhance my understanding,” she said.

Even if E.L. James doesn’t quite love it.

Nevertheless, not everyone was pleased Taylor-Johnson’s approach to sex, as she admitted to butting heads with James. “It was difficult, I’m not going to lie,” said Taylor-James. “We definitely fought, but they were creative fights, and we would resolve them. […] It was about finding a way between the two of us, satisfying her vision of what she’d written as well as my need to visualize this person on-screen, but, you know, we got there.”

But now she does!

Ultimately, James came around. “Fifty Shades of Grey is first and foremost a romantic love story, and the sex is only part of that,” she said earlier this month. “People who haven’t read the books might be surprised that there isn’t more sex on the screen, but that’s because they’ve gone by media reports of Fifty Shades, which have tended to err on the side of the sensational. I’m pretty sure the millions of fans who have the read the trilogy will think there is enough sex.”

In conclusion…

So, what have we learned about sex and Fifty Shades of Grey? Mostly that selling an erotic romance is very very hard. Taylor-Johnson is going out of her way to reassure Fifty Shades fans that her adaptation will be all about boinking, while simultaneously stressing to more mainstream crowd that it’s not really all about boinking.

In any case, it might be a moot point. If Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson really have as little chemistry as they seem to in all the promotional photoshoots, public appearances, and advertisements for the film, maybe no one will even want to watch them pretend to have sex.

Fifty Shades of Grey opens February 13.

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