‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ on Today Show

Fans finally got a glimpse of the movie version of EL James’s “Fifty Shades of Grey,” starring Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan. The trailer for the wildly anticipated film was released this morning on the” Today Show.”

It was a little hotter than the usual morning TV fare, but hardly the transgressive shocker we’ve been led to expect over many months of rumors, casting cliffhangers and well-planned leaks.

At the opening of the 2:17 minute trailer, Johnson, playing the virginal college student Anastasia, arrives to interview Christian Grey (Dornan) in his glamorous glass-lined office.

“I exercise control in all things,” Grey says, to which Anastasia replies, “Must be really boring.”

Au contraire!

Cut to athletic sex in elevator.

“You should steer clear of me. My tastes are very singular,” Grey whispers. “You wouldn’t understand.”

“Enlighten me then,” Anastasia says.

The trailer includes the requisite shot of Dornan walking around shirtless (he was, after all, a Calvin Klein model), along with a glimpse of Johnson tied with red ropes to his bed,  experiencing what we’re supposed to believe is some new level of forbidden pleasure.

Fans of James’s “mommy porn” novels were tied up in knots for months debating who should play her sexy characters in the movie version. Initially, “Sons of Anarchy” star Charlie Hunnam was cast as the dominating billionaire, but he was eventually replaced by Dornan. (There are apparently no hard feelings: This weekend, an AP story quoted Hunnam calling James “pretty brilliant” and Dornan “a lot better looking and a lot smoother” than he is.)

“Fifty Shades” is expected to be the biggest film of 2015 — it opens on Valentine’s Day, naturally. It’s based on James’s industry-changing trilogy, which has sold over 100 million copies in more than 50 languages and spawned so many essays of cultural criticism that you’d rather be tied up in the Red Room of Pain and whipped with cat o’ nine tails than read one more. . . .  The first book is reportedly the fastest-selling paperback ever. Based largely on “Fifty Shades” sales, Random House gave every employee a $5,000 bonus at the end of 2012.

In recognition of her phenomenal influence on the industry, Publishers Weekly chose James as its 2012 Publishing Person of the Year. (Disclosure: I released a video trailer of my own about that here.)

But not all booksellers have been driven to heights of sexual ecstasy by these bondage-lite novels. Mark LaFramboise, manager of Politics & Prose Bookstore in Washington, says, “For us, the EL James phenomenon has largely passed. We haven’t sold any of the three since last April. Will the movie create new interest? Probably. Yawn.”

Ron Charles is the editor of The Washington Post's Book World. For a dozen years, he enjoyed teaching American literature and critical theory in the Midwest, but finally switched to journalism when he realized that if he graded one more paper, he'd go crazy.
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