Author of erotic bestseller will be hands-on as Hollywood plans movie


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The Independent Online

First, they pulled together an Oscar-nominated movie about the invention of the "poke". Now the creative team behind The Social Network is exploring the literary realm known as "Mummy Porn".

Michael De Luca and Dana Brunetti, the producers behind David Fincher and Aaron Sorkin's hit Facebook biopic, have been handed the hazardous task of bringing erotic novel Fifty Shades of Grey to the big screen.

The duo's appointment was announced by Universal Pictures, which spent a reported $5m acquiring movie rights to the book and its two sequels, during a heated auction in March. It suggests that the studio intends to move full steam ahead with the film, cashing-in on a craze which has seen Fifty Shades... sell 1,162,637 copies in its first eleven weeks, making it the fastest-selling book since records began.

"At its core, Fifty Shades... is a complex love story, requiring a delicate and sophisticated hand to bring it to the big screen," said Universal. "Mike and Dana's credits more than exemplify what we need in creative partners and we're glad to have them as part of our team." Among their first tasks will be appointing a screenwriter, director and actors to play the novel's young protagonist Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey, a handsome older billionaire who introduces her to sado-masochism.

That may be easier than done, since author EL James, whose real name is Erika Leonard, is taking what in the film industry is known as a "dreaded" hands-on interest in the movie adaptation.

During March's frenzied auction for movie rights, James installed herself at Soho House in Hollywood, while an array of movie moguls pleaded for the adaptation deal. She reportedly insisted on the right to veto all casting, writing, directing and even wardrobe decisions.

In De Luca, she at least has a producing partner who understands eroticism. A Hollywood veteran, he boasts a legendarily-colourful private life, and in 1998 was famously ejected by security from an Oscar garden party hosted by agent Arnold Rifkin.

"De Luca clearly crossed a line," reported the LA Times, "[when] he dropped his pants and engaged in oral sex with a young woman as several guests looked on."

EL James' husband is also a writer and has a thriller for young adults coming out in the UK and US this autumn. Niall Leonard's Crusher will be released on 11 September.