Fifty Shades of Grey Film Rights Snagged by Universal and Focus

There has been much chatter this past week about who would get their hands on the much-desired film rights to Fifty Shades of Grey, the E.L. James-written sex-soaked mature-audiences-only trilogy that’s taken the lit scene by storm. Well, ladies and gentlemen (and sadists and masochists), we have a winner: Universal Pictures and Focus Features have come out on top of the scramble.

The amount paid for the film rights has not been disclosed but Deadline is reporting on some details of the deal, including that “the author and agent set approvals over things like script, director and lead cast, but they did not insist on a quick progress to production or even a guarantee that all three films would be made.” It seems like slow-and-steady is setting up to win the race in the long haul too.

Fifty Shades of Grey was first published in the spring of 2011 in Australia, and went on to sell more than 250,000 copies in eBook and Paperback editions. Earlier this month, Vintage Books acquired the world English publishing rights and will be producing a U.S. paperback edition in April.

So … why all the buzz? The titillating novel shares the story of late-20s billionaire Christian Grey’s relationship with college student Anastasia Steele, in which she’s contractually obligated to submit to his S&M desires. The prose can bring even the most un-prudish sort to full blush – and has become quite popular with females, as made evident on a recent “Good Morning America” segment.

The remaining question? Who will take on the roles of Anastasia and Christian? And, of course, will the film join the ranks of the elite NC-17 Ratings Club? If Christian’s Red Room of Pain is remaining part of the plot, we’re betting yes.