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As 'Fifty Shades of Grey' Heads Toward Release, Universal Is Calling Shots (FIRST LOOK)

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by Anne Thompson
June 18, 2014 6:00 PM
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Jamie Dornan in '50 Shades of Grey'
Jamie Dornan in '50 Shades of Grey'
Dornan Interview

As the movie version of the bestselling erotic novel "Fifty Shades of Grey" heads for release on February 13, 2015, the Focus Features marketing is starting to roll out. 

The sexy Interview cover and less provocative headshot of Jamie Dornan, the Northern Irish actor ("Once Upon a Time") finally cast--after Charlie Hunnam backed out--as S & M master Christian Grey, were duly unveiled on Facebook. 

But as the marketing hits, the driving force behind it comes from parent studio Universal, whose chairman Donna Langley is hugely invested in making her baby a hit. She landed the property amid a fierce bidding war partly by steering it through specialty subsidiary Focus Features, which was able to produce the film on a modest budget without having to hit it out of the park on a big-studio level.

Langley and British author E.L. James hand-picked the producing team behind "A Social Network" and "Captain Phillips," Michael De Luca and Dana Brunetti, to shepherd the film. They all agreed on "Saving Mr. Banks" writer Kelly Marcel, director Sam Taylor-Johnson and casting Grey (Dornan) and Anastasia (Dakota Johnson). 

So they're not about to give up control now that the film is in post-production and heading for release. A realligned Focus Features, which has been finding its footing under new management led by Peter Schlessel, will execute marketing plans, I hear, under marching orders from the parent studio. 

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