By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood May 4, 2012 at 10:26AM
The only way EL James' notoriously erotic "Fifty Shades of Grey" will ever wind up a half-way decent movie will be if the filmmakers take the high road.
Going with Universal co-chairman Donna Langley and Focus Features production exec Jeb Brody, who both successfully wooed Brit editor-turned-novelist James, who sought JK Rowling-like control over her project--was a step in the right direction. Given the rumored acquisition cost of some $5 million, the movie would need some names to pull audiences. And the only way to get stars on the order of Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman in "Eyes Wide Shut," which narrowly skirted an NC-17 in its day, is to promise top-notch quality via an A-list screenwriter and director.
While the novel started out as fan fiction inspired by Edward Cullen and Bella Swan in "Twilight," a much older vampire frozen at age 17 who woos a virginal everygirl teen, James' novel "Fifty Shades of Grey" tells the improbable romance of virginal college coed Anastasia Steele and young Seattle Master of the Universe Christian Grey. But while she seeks a loving relationship, he wants her to sign a contract stipulating rules of S & M engagement. The book is explicitly erotic as this smart and gorgeous but inexperienced young woman sexually comes of age under the guidance of this complicated and damaged young man, who is also in love, but prefers spanking, role play and bondage to "vanilla" sex.