Let's Discuss: 'Fifty Shades' of Success?

This week the internet was shaken with the hotly anticipated trailer and first glimpse of “Fifty Shades of Grey”, the film adaptation of the first book in E.L. James’ best-selling series. So many questions continue to surround the film.  Whether it will stay true to the nature of the book and how much, if any, explicit material will actually make it to the silver screen.

Anticipation and curiosity have tinged the air of excitement surrounding it, and after a troubled beginning (the originally cast Christian Grey, Charlie Hunnam, vacated the role shortly before production started), it finally got off the ground.

The question remains, will anticipation and curiosity create a box office success? It has been years since the books became a global phenomenon as it swept its mostly female readers into an unabashed frenzy. Have temperatures cooled? Shocking film audiences with raunchy behavior will be more difficult than it was 3 years ago. A movie such as this can’t compete the same way it used to when Adrian Lyne’s dramas were steaming up the silver screen in the 80’s and 90’s.

Cable series have consistently pushed the envelope and the cinematic thrill factor has been compromised as mainstream Hollywood films struggle to keep up. Where “Fifty Shades” could possibly lose ground is that given its casting of relative unknowns in the leads, curiosity to see them do something “outrageous” might not have manifested quite yet. 

Last year’s raunchy “The Wolf of Wall Street” divided audiences with its unabashed depiction of carnal activity. “Wolf” it seems, was considered a male-centric tale and the audience pushing “Fifty Shades” will undoubtedly be lead by females. “Magic Mike” and the “Sex and the City” films were financially profitable and there was a peculiarly limited (if any) controversy surrounding their release.

On the other hand “Wolf”, also a huge financial success, faced enormous controversy in the press. “Fifty Shades” could still face controversial waters when it premieres and not necessarily for its content but the entire storyline, which raised eyebrows upon the book’s release.

As for the trailer itself, things appear promising. It played coy and the publicity machine behind the film seems to be taking a few notes from its titular character, staying shy on details and heavy on hints. Jamie Dornan made a remarkably positive first impression, capturing the mystique of the enigmatic Grey in the brief glimpse. While Dakota Johnson seemed convincing as the bashful Anastasia.

Whether they share the palatable screen chemistry to convince audiences of the combustible tension between the characters still remains to be seen. One worthy thing to note is that director Sam Taylor-Johnson has undoubtedly nailed the aesthetic presentation to a T, a cold industrial flavor with a touch of blue-hued warmth. The filmmakers knew what they were doing on this one.

So what do you think? Will “Fifty Shades of Grey” heat up the box office? Is it still too soon to make predictions? Watching the ensuing months of publicity will undoubtedly be interesting as fans will either witness the arrival of a franchise or the buckling of expectations.

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