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Producers of The Social Network and Moneyball Tie Up Fifty Shades of Grey: Most Risque Oscar Contender Ever?

Dana Brunetti and Michael DeLuca/Photos © S. Bukley/Shutterstock

Fifty Shades of Grey offers a foreboding glimpse at the future of literary pop culture phenomena. Over the past thirteen months, since E L James' racy romantic trilogy began titillating its way to the apex of the cultural conversation (not to mention bestseller lists), the series has already spawned a growing swarm of web videos (parodies, fan homages, celebrity dramatic readings, etc.) thick enough to rival Funny or Die's output for a year. And then there's the media drum beat, growing ever louder with each news break, speculative or real, as the books continue their conquest of each new medium.

Now, after this week's significant development hit the airwaves announcing that producers Dana Brunetti ("The Social Network") and Michael De Luca ("Moneyball") had been chosen to shepherd Fifty Shades of Grey onto the big screen, the challenge will be for the film to make its way into theaters before any backlash or burnout sets in. But if anyone can oversee an adaptation that brings added value to a beloved book, it's this pair of Hollywood heavyweights. Both come to the project with filmographies bearing recent Oscar-nominated films based on literary source material (see credits above). More importantly, they're both very practiced in the dark arts of navigating the media and calibrating a highly anticipated project's public exposure to peak just prior to an awards season release.

Judging by the timing of this announcement, Fifty Shades of Grey seems to be progressing on track for a fall 2013 debut. While it may seem a stretch to suggest that a racy page-turner like this one could claim a slot among the high-brow contenders in any Oscar race, these producers' involvement signals an unwillingness to deliver an adaptation designed to replicate the source material and cash in on the book's avid fan base (see: The Twilight Saga). The model here seems to be more in line with The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo before producer Scott Rudin set David Fincher loose to infuse his elegant dark realism into Stieg Larsson's genre storytelling.

In fact, with Brunetti on board, we wouldn't be surprised if Fincher's name hasn't already sprung to the top of the producers' wish list. It's hard to think of another filmmaker with the discipline and determination to capture the dark psychological undercurrents propelling Christian and Ana's transgressive trysts without getting distracted by the growing din of fans' expectations for the series. Our second choice for director: Kathryn Bigelow, who brings her background in philosophy and art theory to cerebral action films like "The Hurt Locker."

Though Fifty Shades of Grey doesn't offer much fodder for special effects set pieces, it's definitely an action picture in the less pyrotechnic sense of the genre. But what we like most about Bigelow is her astringent lack of sentimentality and the absence of un-nuanced heroes or villains in any of her films.  We'd love to see what she or someone like Chris Nolan might do with battle scenes of the psycho-sexual variety.

Feel free to weigh in here with your thoughts on Fifty's two new producers and your top picks for the filmmaker best suited to do right by James' characters.

  • I feel so strongly that UNKNOWN actors should end up being cast for both Ana and Christian. The last thing we should have with this story is having to look up at the screen and think "Ian" or "Ryan" or "Alex" or whatever. The casting people should pick UNKNOWN, talented actors that the audience will be able to see and only associate with Ana and Christian and not with their other past roles or tabloid-saturated pictures.

    Unknown, talented actors are the way to go for this movie in my opinion.

    • Tami

      I agree with having unknown talented actors. After reading the books you have a idea of what you think they look like and then to throw in an actor that you have seen already several times kind of crushes the mysterious & exciting idea of Christian & Ana.

    • Former md fan

      I agree that the actor should be unknown. I think Ian's TVD character is so well known all I see is a vampire when I see him, I wouldn't be able to get past it. My favorite choice was Marco Dapper, as I think he fits the bill to a tee. And he is not known by the masses. He is "sex on legs" as Ana describes in the book. Ian is not that hot. He has the brooding thing going for him but I wouldn't want to sleep with him at all.

  • Rebecca

    David Fincher, PLEASE!! Amazing. I cannot wait for this movie. I just feel like the cast, specifically who will play Ana and Christian, will not be up to my standards. :/

  • Danielle Smith

    Ian Somerhalder would make a great Christian Grey. Lilly Collins or Alexis Bledel for Anastasia.

  • Chris

    Sounds great I think Henry Cavill and Felicity Jones would be perfect casting for Christian and Anna!!!!!!

  • Traci

    I think they should pick someone new. Someone who has not been on the big screen before.

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  • Lorraine

    I think nobody from twilight should not be in this movie, this film is not for them.

  • Dee Dee

    please DO NOT cast Kristin Stewart as Ana....she is so sullen and dull and cheap looking. I can't stand her acting in anything.

  • Jessica

    Look into casting Marco Dapper as Christian Grey...

  • colleen b

    Ian Somerhalder to play Christian Grey PLEASE!

  • Please please Armie Hammer as Christian. Perfect age, hair, and eyes.

  • L

    Ashley Greene for Anna, Alex skarsgaurd Christian,

  • Laina

    Deffo Alexander Skarsgard as Christian & either Nina Dobrev, Lucy Hale or Troian Bellisario as Anastasia!!

  • Kelly

    Matt Bomer as Christian and Alexis Bledel as Ana. No doubt!!

  • pinoymom

    Christisn - Ryan Gosling or Matt Bomer
    Anastasia - Rooney Mara or Elizabeth Olsen

  • Julie

    CG-David Gandy
    AS-Lyndsy Fonseca

  • Linda Silber

    Channing Tatum--perfect body for Christian Grey and decent acting ability
    Amanda Seyfried (sp?)--blue eyes, unique look, great acting, not afraid of nude scenes. Perfect Anastasia.

  • Emilye

    Pleeaasse pick Ian Somerholder ! He is undoubtably picture PERFECT for the role of Christian!

  • Ashley

    Body wise...Channing Tatum but he just doesn't have that "dark Domineering" side to him...Ryan Gosling has the body and the dark look to him but as previous comments mentioned before...Christen Grey character may fade away when we remember these known actors as "the guy from Notebook" or the guy in "Magic Mike"...pick carefully so not to ruin the book.

  • Filou

    Christian Grey: Ryan Gosling
    Anastasia: Emilia Clarke

    • Filou

      Christian Grey: Ryan Gosling
      Anastasia: Emma Stone

      • Ann

        Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling !!!!!! Perfect Ana & Christian

  • Ann

    Alex Pettyfer and Diana Agron 🙂

  • Kelly

    I also agree about going with 2 actors who are unknown. Knowing that most likely that won't happen. I think Alexis Bledel would be perfect. She is best known from Gilmore Girls, and her character on the show; Rory share a lot of similar characterstics as Ana. Ian Somerholder for Christian. Again known from the small screen, but with his t.v personality/character, I could see him playing that role. Both are beautiful & telented, and aren't unknowns. They aren't in your face actors that would ruin that first sight of who is going to play these amazing characters in a book series!?

  • Catalina

    Ian somerhalder - Christian Grey 😉

    and you already have the half of the world seeing the movie.

  • Tina

    Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone as Ana and Christian.The chemistry is great. The actresses they want are to exotic looking. I'm not saying Ana's ugly because thats only the characters opinion, but the rest of characters obviously see different but Emma Stone is beautiful in a natural way, dont really know how to explain, its like she's funny yet actually beautiful also, you dont see that alot. She and Ryan are great actors, I've seen all their movies. Its also the acting people need to focus on. I'm tired of hearing he's hot so he should be christian, or she is so hot, she should be ana. Ana is beautiful but very funny and sarcastic. Emma Stone is both of that yet you take her seriously because a good actor can play anyone without seeing them as the other characters they've played. When I saw Ryan in crazy stupid love, I didn't see the cowboy from remember the titans and I didnt see Emma as Olive from Easy A, when I saw her along with Ryan in Crazy stupid love.

  • Jenn

    I agree completely with What Tina said. Since the first time I've ever see Ryan Gosling, he has always struck me as an actor with the versality to take on any role. For any one to say he cannot take the dark side of Christian Grey, those people did not see Drive. Even his excellent work in Crazy, Stupid, Love, he goes from playing a pure dog to finding the woman of his dreams and completely turning his life around for her. There are not enough ways to put into words his stellar performance in The Notebook. It's soooo easy to see that Noah feel head over in love with Ali the moment he first saw her and the love between them died together. I was not surprised when I learned that a real relationship blossomed between Gosling And McAdams. Those emotions could not have been just acting. See all his movies before you pass judgment on 50 Shades, there's Murder by Numbers, Half Nelson was incredible, Fracture, Lars and the Real Girl. 2011 was really just his year to shine and shine he did!!! Blow us all away!!!!

  • i think Marc Baylis should play christian

  • valencia k

    Ever since I started reading the book i pictured John Stamos as my Christian Grey.