"Fifty Shades of Grey" author E.L. James aims for consent and political relevance in her latest romance novel, "The Mister."
It’s official: the Fifty Shades movie franchise has made over $1 billion. It’s surprising for many, and thoroughly unsurprising for the legions of E. L. James loyalists out there. The book series was a smash hit in a way that few are. It’s no wonder, despite being critically slated, why Universal adapted the trilogy.
Money, yes. These movies made the studio bundles of cash, especially considering their relatively sparse budget (Fifty Shades Freed was reportedly made for $55 million, which is mid-budget). But that’s not the only reason Universal adapted the tentpole book series. It was tried and true.
Having essentially been market-tested before a second of pre-production was put into the first movie, the studio could rest assured that no matter what they came out with—which, most critics would assert, was no good—audiences would show up. Because even if the movie itself was a bore, enough people would want to see the sensual novel brought to life.
And when Fifty Shades of Grey first dropped, as with any book adaptation, you could hear the calls of internet-frequenters throughout the globe: Can’t Hollywood come up with any original ideas?
Considering, of this year’s Best Picture nominees in the Academy Awards, only one is a book adaptation (Call Me by Your Name), the answer is clearly a resounding yes. Movie makers are more than capable of creating and producing wildly successful original movies, and audiences will show up.
Yet critics of book adaptations persist. There’s nothing wrong with book adaptations. There’s no problem now, in 2018, and there never was. Let’s jump back 100 years, to the early days of the movie industry.
Back in 1918, movies were being pumped out like crazy. Many of the same studios today were around then. Their formulas haven’t changed. Some of the biggest smash hits of the silent era were based on literature: Jean Epstein’s The Fall of the House of Usher, Paul Leni’s The Man Who Laughs, F. W. Murnau’s Faust, or Rupert Julian’s The Phantom of the Opera. Not to mention D. W. Griffith’s hideous 1915 classic The Birth of a Nation.
From The Man Who Laughs, based on the Victor Hugo novel. | Image Via Classic Monsters
Basically, the movie industry’s been aping literature since its dawn. It’s no surprise they’re doing so now. Regardless of a book’s built-in audience appeal, there are other reasons movie makers (not studios) gravitate toward literature as their inspiration.
Books inspire people. It’s not a controversial thought, especially on this site. They inspire you. Just like they inspire you, they might inspire a screenwriter or director or producer to take to their chosen art form and bring an abstract story to life. It goes beyond money. Put simply, books beg to be adapted. The marriage of book and film is as natural as milk and cookies.
Prose fiction is an abstract medium. Though a writer painstakingly chooses the proper words through which to deliver their story, those words can and will be interpreted differently by every reader. Though dictionaries do a good job of giving us all objective meanings, a good writer will not only create, but flourish in their metaphors and ambiguities. The best writers, at least in my opinion, are those like Italo Calvino or Jorge Luis Borges or Ursula K. Le Guin, who trust enough in their readers to give them the impossible to imagine.
Since film is probably the most immersive visual medium we have, it makes sense that the people who’ve internalized the abstract stories in prose fiction will be compelled to translate those stories into tangible reality.
There are legitimate gripes that readers have with film adaptations. Characters aren’t written quite right, or settings aren’t accurate to what the writer wrote. For the most part, though, these sorts of criticisms are unfairly expectant that one medium is capable of capturing and communicating a story in exactly the same way as the other. In other words, books and movies are made of different stuff. You can tell the same story in a book and in a movie, but some changes are going to be needed.
Book adaptations have been around since feature-length movies have been around. It’s not just because studios know they have an audience waiting to see the films—after all, book audiences are much smaller than movie audiences. Book adaptations are as popular as they are because we want to see stories come to life. Audiences and filmmakers alike are genuinely curious and anxious to see how snugly an adaptation fits the image they’ve constructed in their head. In the same way we get hungry or tired, fans of reading want to see the stories in their head exist in the real world. In a sense, book adaptations, even Fifty Shades Freed, are a dream come true.
Feature Image Via Universal Pictures
A new trailer for the third installation of the Fifty Shades series, Fifty Shades Freed, is out and fans of the series will be pleased at just how much content is included in the two minute clip. Ana and Christian romp around in their post-engagement bliss, marriage, and honeymoon, with just enough time to showcase some dramatic tension – Ana’s crazy boss Jack makes an appearance, and in the last few seconds, it’s revealed that Ana is pregnant.
Fans of the book shouldn’t be surprised – but they should be excited! The third installment looks like it’ll have all the dramatic and sexual tension we expect and deserve. Fifty Shades Freed is set to be released on February 9th, perfect for those still looking for plans for Valentine’s Day weekend.
Featured Image Via Energy 106.
With over 350 million copies sold, The Fifty Shades trilogy, and it’s counterpart Grey: Fifty Shades of Grey, have become one of the best-selling series ever published. The series catapulted the career of author E.L. James and has become an icon for its open depictions of sex and BDSM.
The series has been panned by critics since the first installment was published. The Telegraph wrote, “Fifty Shades of Grey makes Twilight look like War and Peace.”
The Huffington Post wrote, “From its glaring similarities to Twilight (Fifty Shades of Grey is an unauthorized re-imagining of Stephenie Meyer’s bestselling series), the depictions of unrealistic BDSM practices and the often-cringeworthy prose, there’s a lot to critique.”
Personally, the series wasn’t for me. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t the portrayals of BDSM that I felt uncomfortable with. It was, in my opinion, the poor writing.
I could try to describe the discomfort that results from reading the bizarre and repetitive language penned by E.L. James, but what could be more effective than discovering it firsthand?
Here are fifteen lines from Fifty Shades that just left me feeling awkward.
1. “He reaches between my legs and pulls on the blue string… what! And… a gently pulls my tampon out and tosses it into the nearby toilet. Holy fuck. Sweet mother of all… Jeez.”
2. “I eye Christian’s toothbrush. It would be like having him in my mouth. Hmm…”
3. “An image of her shackled to my bench, peeled gingerroot inserted in her ass so she can’t clench her buttocks, comes to mind.”
4. “Much as I’d like to, I’m not going to f–k her in the restroom at IHOP.”
5. “I’m all deer/headlights, moth/flame, bird/snake – and he knows exactly what he’s doing to me.”
6. “Don’t you like the butt drawer?”
7. “He steps out of his Converse shoes and reaches down and takes his socks off individually. Christian Grey’s feet – wow – what is it about naked feet?”
8. “His voice is warm and husky like dark melted chocolate fudge caramel….or something.”
9. “Argh! I cry as I feel a weird pinching sensation deep inside me as he rips through my virginity.”
10. “He’s my very own Christian Grey Popsicle.”
11. “I had no idea giving pleasure could be such a turn-on, watching him writhe subtly with carnal longing. My inner goddess is doing the meringue with some salsa moves.”
12. “My stomach somersaults – he wants me…in a weird way, true, but this beautiful, strange, kinky man wants me.”
13. “Jeez, he looks so freaking hot. My subconscious is frantically fanning herself, and my inner goddess is swaying and writhing to some primal carnal rhythm.”
14. “He has a hotline to my groin.”
15. “I flush, and my inner goddess grabs a rose between her teeth and starts to tango.”
Feature Image Via Smash
2018 is set to be a killer year for book adaptions for the big screen. We’re anticipating adaptations of everything from children’s classics to classic horror, and some of the biggest names in the business starring in them! Whether you’re a Beatrix Potter fan, an E.L James Stan, a YA lover, or a Vonnegut connoisseur, we’ve compiled a list of the top ten page-to-screen extravaganzas to look out for next year.
1. Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter
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This classic tale follows the adventures of Potter’s most famous mischievous rabbit. Fans of the beautiful original illustrations will be interested to see how these translate to 3D animation when the film is released on February 9th. It will star James Corden voicing the titular role, alongside big names such as Daisy Ridley, Domhnall Gleeson and Margot Robbie.
2. Fifty Shades Freed by E.L. James
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For those looking for something a little racier than Peter Rabbit, also coming out on February 9th is the final installment of E.L James’s hit Fifty Shades series, once again starring Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan. This Danny Elfman scored flick follows Ana and Christian who are now married, and the outside forces threatening Ana’s life.
3. Maze Runner: The Death Cure by James Dashner
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The third installment of Dashner’s dystopian trilogy will be hitting screens on February 17th, a year later than planned after star Dylan O’Brien sustained injuries working on set in Vancouver. This story follows Thomas and the Gladers as they fight to find a cure for the disease which has wiped out most of the world’s population. Alongside O’Brien will star Kaya Scoldelario, Thomas Brody-Sangster and Aiden Gillen.
4. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
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Sci-Fi nuts will love this adaptation of L’Engle’s 1962 novel about life and death, good and evil, and time travel. The star-studded cast includes Reese Witherspoon, Chris Pine, Mindy Kaling, and Oprah Winfrey, and you can expect to see all of their lovely faces on March 9th.
5. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
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Another one for Sci-Fi fans is this Spielberg adaptation of Cline’s 2011 novel. Coming out on March 30th, the movie starring Simon Pegg, Mark Rylance, and Olivia Cooke follows the struggle in the year 2044 to find an Easter Egg left behind by the head of an MMO, the finder of which will inherit a fortune.
6. The Invisible Man by H.G Wells
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This classic horror, set for release on April 13th, follows a mad scientist who makes himself invisible. It is not yet known if the upcoming movie, starring Johnny Depp, will stick more closely to the original novel than the 1933 version (which featured some major differences in plot), or if it will just be a modern remake. The Invisible Man is set to be the second installment of Universal Pictures’ Universal Monsters series, which began with The Mummy (2017) and will be followed by The Bride of Frankenstein (2019)
7. Meg by Steven Alten
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What’s a year in cinema without a killer shark movie? Steve Alten’s novel about a megalodon, a prehistoric shark and the largest sea predator to ever exist, will be chomping its way to a screen near you in August 2018. The story follows paleontologist Jonas Taylor, the survivor of a megalodon attack, and his attempts to prove the beast still exists. Ruby Rose and Jason Statham are set to star.
8. Bluebeard by Kurt Vonnegut
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Calling all Vonnegut fans! You can expect to see his novel Bluebeard coming to the big screen on October 29th. Little else is known about this project as yet, but we’re super excited to see who will star as Vonnegut’s reclusive painter protagonist Rabo Karabekian!
9. All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven
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The New York Times touted this YA book as perfect for fans of John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars and Rainbow Rowell’s Eleanor and Park, and judging by how well TFIOS did at the box office, we’re guessing this tale of two teens helping each other through their respective problems will be a hit. Set to star Elle Fanning in the role of Violet, a teen struggling with the death of her sister, the film will be released on an undisclosed date in 2018.
10. Ophelia by Lisa Klein
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Shakespeare fans can look forward to Klein’s retelling of the classic story of Hamlet from the point of view of Ophelia, which will hit screens on an as-yet unknown date in 2018. The cast includes Daisy Ridley, Naomi Watts, Clive Owen and Tom Felton as Shakespeare’s classic characters battling for love and revenge in the kingdom of Elisnore.
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