Gus Van Sant / Fifty Shades of Grey / Alex Pettyfer

It was around this time last year that Universal forked over $3 million or more to pick up the movie rights to Fifty Shades of Grey, author E.L. JamesTwilight fanfiction-turned-erotic bestseller. Despite the rumors that have been flying around since the beginning, though, the project still doesn’t have a director or stars attached. But apparently one guy who wants in is Gus Van Sant.

In a bid for the directing gig, Van Sant has shot a test reel of a steamy sex scene, with Magic Mike actor Alex Pettyfer playing kinky billionaire Christian Grey. This is by no means a confirmation that either of them will be involved in the final product. However, it may suggest that Van Sant is the kind of filmmaker Universal is looking for. Hit the jump to keep reading.

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Emma Watson

Ever since Universal picked up E.L. James‘ erotic bestseller Fifty Shades of Grey last year, it seems like every other actress in Hollywood has been rumored for the female lead. Sometimes the gossip is based on an offhand remark made by the actress herself, but more often it seems to be inspired by nothing more than wishful thinking.

Last summer, one of the juiciest rumors making the rounds was that Emma Watson could be attached to star. Watson quickly debunked that claim, stressing that she hadn’t so much as seen a script, but in recent weeks her name’s cropped up again thanks to Anonymous’ hack of a German film studio. But it seems this story isn’t any more reliable than the last one was. The actress has now taken to Twitter to put an end to the talk once and for all. Read Watson’s comment after the jump.

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Universal is in an interesting position now. The studio is free of the contract with Hasbro that had it dedicated to developing board-game properties for some time, and has started to settle into a place where it floats on the performance of big comedies (Ted), the occasional well-chosen pop-culture adaptation (Les Miserables), and affordable franchise installments (Fast & Furious, Bourne) rather than massive tentpoles.

And so Universal is working on sequels to the giant hit Ted and horror performer Mama. In a new interview, studio chairman Adam Fogelson explains that he also may made an Identity Thief sequel (“we created great characters, so we’ll discuss how to re-pair Jason [Bateman] and Melissa going forward”) and an “at long last” film version of Wicked (“I believe that we are collectively moving toward Wicked coming to the screen sooner rather than later”).

But the real focus is on those franchise installments, including another Snow White and the Huntsman movie, and the new Mummy and Van Helsing films. Read More »

Book lovers often worry that their favorite tomes won’t translate perfectly to the big screen, but fans of E.L. James‘ Fifty Shades of Grey have more reason to be anxious than most. The erotic bestseller has attracted a lot of attention for its explicit portrayal of S&M sex — not generally an activity that translates well to blockbuster movies. But screenwriter Kelly Marcel says Fifty Shades lovers needn’t fret.

According to her, Focus Features’ Fifty Shades film will be so steamy, it’ll be rated NC-17. It’s a surprising move by the studio if true, but that might be a big “if.” More details after the jump.

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Despite its humble origins as a bit of Twilight fanfiction, E.L. JamesFifty Shades of Grey is picking up some interesting talent on its road to the big screen. The Social Network producers Michael De Luca and Dana Brunetti signed on back in July, and have been looking for a writer to adapt the erotic novel ever since.

A shortlist revealed in August suggested an unexpected mix of names in the running, and as of today, Saving Mr. Banks writer and Terra Nova co-creator Kelly Marcel has emerged as the winner of the highly coveted gig. Sorry, Bret Easton Ellis. More after the jump.

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Plenty of high-profile actors and filmmakers have devoted time to deflecting Fifty Shades of Grey movie rumors in recent months, but one industry figure who’s made no secret of his burning desire to bring the S&M novel to life is Bret Easton Ellis. The American Psycho author has been pushing hard for the screenwriting job over the past couple of months, calling lead character Christian Grey “a writer’s dream” and floating casting ideas via Twitter.

Alas, it seems this particular dream is out of reach for Ellis. A shortlist of possible scribes for the Universal and Focus Features adaptation has just been revealed, and Ellis’ name is nowhere to be seen. What’s more surprising may be the writers that are. Producers are reportedly eyeing writers behind Cars 2, The Killing, and Saving Mr. Banks. More details after the jump.

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The fanfiction turned supermarket porn megahit novel Fifty Shades of Grey is coming to screens eventually (maybe) and after a few months of working with the property Universal and Focus Features have announced the producers for the film. Michael De Luca and Dana Brunetti, who collaborated on David Fincher’s The Social Network, will oversee the project.

That means they have the herculean task of making sure that the movie pleases the book’s many fans at the same time as it will likely dial back the explicit S&M flavored sex. But without that, the film will have to pay attention to the book’s main characters, the young inexperienced virgin Anastasia Steele (seriously, that’s the character’s name) and her first paramour, the domineering, damaged billionaire Christian Grey. Read More »

Angelina Jolie‘s people may be denying that the actress-turned-filmmaker has been in talks to direct the erotic romance Fifty Shades of Grey, but there’s one Hollywood figure who’s being totally upfront with his interest in getting involved. Bret Easton Ellis, author of American Psycho and The Rules of Attraction, has announced via Twitter that he is interested in writing the adaptation for the screen. And he already has a few ideas about who he’d like to see in the director’s chair and in front of the camera. More details after the jump.

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