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Disney Screenwriter Kelly Marcel to Write 'Fifty Shades of Grey' Adaptation

Thompson on Hollywood By Anne Thompson & Sophia Savage | Thompson on Hollywood October 8, 2012 at 3:42PM

Moving from "Mary Poppins" to erotic fiction overnight, screenwriter Kelly Marcel has been hired to write the adaptation of E.L. James' bestseller "Fifty Shades of Grey." Universal and Focus Features have the rights to all three books. Michael De Luca and Dana Brunetti ("A Social Network") are producing.
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Moving from "Mary Poppins" to erotic fiction overnight, screenwriter Kelly Marcel has been hired to write the adaptation of E.L. James' bestseller "Fifty Shades of Grey." Universal and Focus Features have the rights to all three books. Michael De Luca and Dana Brunetti ("A Social Network") are producing.

Marcel penned the behind-the-scenes "Mary Poppins" story "Savings Mr. Banks," which is now in production with director John Lee Hancock and Tom Hanks (Walt Disney). She was also a writer/creator and exec producer behind the short-lived 2011 sci-fi TV series "Terra Nova," and is producing "The Madonnas of Echo Park" for HBO. Hiring a strong female screenwriter is a good sign, given the delicate nature of this S & M romance. The next question is who the director will be.

De Luca explains why they picked the writer: “Kelly's work demonstrates her flawless structural technique and passionate commitment to emotion, humor and depth of character."

Brunetti adds that "We were all taken with the depth and passion of Kelly’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."

Erotic novel “Fifty Shades of Grey” has sold over 32 million copies in the US, and has been translated into 45 languages worldwide. It's the fastest-selling book series ever and has sparked rampant casting speculation since news of the film adaptation broke earlier this year.

More background on the book and its influence here; The WSJ digs into the books' "Twilight" roots.

This article is related to: Screenwriters, News, Universal, Focus Features, 50 Shades of Grey, IN THE WORKS


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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.