There's a reason we put Kelly Marcel on our On The Rise feature for screenwriters this spring. The scribe was due to break out in a big way, and indeed she has, nabbing one of the most high-profile book adaptations kicking around Hollywood.
Universal and Focus Features has announced that the "Terra Nova," "Saving Mr. Banks" and (uncredited) "Bronson" writer will be adapting E.L. James' BDSM book sensation "Fifty Shades Of Grey" for the big screen. Snatched up earlier this year for a figure somewhere in the neighborhood of $3 million after a fierce bidding war, Marcel will have a tough task ahead of her as fans already each have their own ideas on nearly every aspect of the movie from directors to actors (you can read our own suggestions right here). Also tricky will be how to bring the erotic content in the book to the big screen within the framework of an R-rating, particularly when the MPAA can get squeamish about anything that isn't vanilla sex.
Do you think she's the right hire? Can "Fifty Shades Of Grey" become the big hit a $3 million investment in the rights alone suggests? Weigh in below. Here's the official press release:
UNIVERSAL CITY, CA, October 8, 2012—Universal Pictures and Focus Features today announced that Kelly Marcel will write the screenplay to the highly anticipated film adaptation of “Fifty Shades of Grey.” Michael De Luca and Dana Brunetti will produce the film based on E L James’ #1 Bestselling book, alongside James. The announcement was made by Universal Pictures Co-Chairman, Donna Langley and Focus Features’ Chief Executive Officer, James Schamus.
Marcel wrote the 2011 Black List script, Saving Mr. Banks, the story of Walt Disney’s twenty-year pursuit of the film rights to author P.L. Travers’ novel, “Mary Poppins,” and the rocky relationship that formed between the two. The film is currently in production at Walt Disney Studios starring Tom Hanks, Emma Thompson and Colin Farrell with John Lee Hancock directing. Marcel served as the co-creator and executive producer of the Amblin/FOX-TV series Terra Nova, for which she wrote the series’ pilot episode. She will also produce The Madonnas Of Echo Park for HBO.
“Kelly’s work demonstrates her flawless structural technique and passionate commitment to emotion, humor and depth of character which is particularly visible in the celebrated screenplay for the upcoming Saving Mr. Banks,” said De Luca. “We were all taken with the depth and passion of Kelley's engagement with the characters and world E L James has created and we knew she was the right person to augment our Fifty Shades family,” added Brunetti.
Universal Pictures and Focus Features acquired the rights to the three books in the “Fifty Shades of Grey” Trilogy in March of this year. Focus Features will market and distribute the first film in partnership with Universal. “Fifty Shades of Grey” has become a global phenomenon and the trilogy has been translated in 45 languages worldwide since its release. In the U.S. alone, the “Fifty Shades” trilogy has sold over 32 million copies in e-book and print making it one of the fastest selling book series ever.
“Fifty Shades of Grey” follows the relationship of 27-year-old billionaire Christian Grey and college student Anastasia Steele. Subsequent novels in the series, “Fifty Shades Darker” (September 2011) and “Fifty Shades Freed” (January 2012) explore the couple’s deepening relationship. For more information please see the official Fifty Shades of Grey Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/fiftyshadesofgreymovie.
Marcel was represented in the deal by WME and Casarotto Ramsay & Associates Limited.