EXCLUSIVE: In a competition that was almost as heated as the subject matter, Kelly Marcel has been chosen by Universal Pictures and Focus Features to write the script for Fifty Shades Of Grey, the E.L. James publishing phenomenon that has sold 32 million books in the U.S. alone. James had a major say in determining who got to write the script, and she made the choice along with Universal co-chairman Donna Langley (who won one of the most heated book rights auctions in recent memory); the Focus Features production team; and the film’s producers, Mike De Luca and Dana Brunetti.
Marcel got the job off of her script Saving Mr. Banks, the story of Walt Disney’s long courtship of author P.L. Travers’ novel Mary Poppins. That script is being turned into a big movie at Disney, with John Lee Hancock directing, Tom Hanks playing Disney and Emma Thompson playing Travers. Marcel is repped by WME and Casarotto Ramsay & Associates.
Marcel’s work showed an emotional maturity and grace that made the principals believe she was the right choice to write a script that is tricky. While there is steamy sex, and that has helped catapult the book to global phenomenon status, there is an intricate emotional dynamic to the principal characters, the business magnate Christian Grey and the recent college graduate Anastasia Steele. That dynamic is what the studio hopes will fuel at least three compelling films, as the studio also acquired the two follow-up novels Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed. The deal was made back in March for over $3 million. (more…)