In one of the most baffling cases of frenzied bidding ever for book-to-movie rights, Universal and Focus Features have beaten out several other studios to claim E.L. James’ bestselling Fifty Shades Of Grey, the S&M-tinged erotic trilogy currently being read by some woman on the subway while her hand shades her Kindle, even though we all know what you’re looking at. The story of sex, money, and spanking concerns a 21-year-old college student who gets involved with a powerful yet tormented late-20s billionaire who’s consumed by his instincts to inflict pain—and here’s where we point out somewhat redundantly that James’ story actually began life as Twilight fan fiction, before blossoming into being called “Twilight for adults,” or, even more derisively, “mommy porn,” which we don’t recommend Googling.
Naturally, Fifty Shades has its own, equally rabid fan base, comprised of women who similarly dream of changing their own loyal yet emotionally distant bad boy through sex and the withholding of sex, and who will just as fervently inform you that the books are “really great love stories” and that you don’t know what you’re talking about. That Twilight-like following certainly led to this movie deal—at an unspecified figure Deadline speculates was close to the $4 million range— though it remains to be seen whether Universal can similarly make a franchise mint with something that reads less like the next big blockbuster trilogy and more like something Shannon Tweed should have starred in circa 1991. But it does provide one lesson for every fan fiction writer looking to strike it rich out there, even if your chosen milieu is, say, Perfect Strangers: You should definitely add more descriptions of orgasms.