As anticipation continues to grow ahead of the world premiere of 50 Shades Of Grey in Berlin on Wednesday, the racy film is raising everything from eyebrows to hackles — and more — internationally.
Some have taken issue with the film’s perceived legitimization of abusive relationships. In the UK, protestors from a group calling itself 50 Shades Is Domestic Abuse are planning on disrupting the London premiere of the film on Thursday. “The story line is a classic portrayal of an abuser: manipulating, coercing his partner into all sorts of things she doesn’t want to do and essentially gaining a lot of control,” group leader Natalie Collins told local TV station London Live. She admitted to not having seen the film yet.
Elsewhere, director Sam Taylor-Johnson’s adaptation is running into choppy waters in some socially conservative markets. Malaysia and Indonesia, where sexually graphic fare historically has been problematic, have banned the film. Fifty Shades also appears unlikely to play in parts of the Middle East. The film is expected to play in liberal Lebanon but is expected to have difficulty in getting past the censors in the Gulf states of Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, but no official decisions have been made.
In France, on the other hand, the public’s attention has been drawn to the real-life sexual exploits of the disgraced former head of the International Monetary Fund and one-time presidential contender Dominique Strauss-Kahn as he stands trial on charges of pimping and participating in orgies. The film will be released with a typically libertine rating of a 12 only certificate, in contrast to the 18 only certificate issued in the UK. Jean-Francois Mary, president of France governing film body the CNC, gallicly described the S&M-inflected film as a “trifle”… and “not a film that, in my opinion, may shock many people.”
Try telling that to Tim Wildmon, President of the American Family Association, who has denounced the big-screen adaptation of EL James’ literary phenomenon as “disgusting” and labeled it “Fifty Shades of Evil.”
None of this is stopping the film’s likely box office dominance. Fifty Shades is generating plenty of heat internationally with advance box office sales. Across 39 international markets, including the U.K., Ireland, Australia, New Zealand and Germany, some 4.5 million advance tickets already have been purchased, with the UK and Germany the leading markets with advance sales of 750,000 each.