British author E.L. James has been meeting with a number of huge producers all vying for the opportunity to develop her cash cow, and she has apparently selected Michael De Luca and Dana Brunetti produce the movie version of her deepest fantasies. As a duo, De Luca and Brunetti produced David Fincher's The Social Network and are currently producing the Frank Darabont television series L.A. Noir, as well as Captain Phillips, the forthcoming Paul Greengrass drama starring Tom Hanks as the titular Somali-pirate plagued captain. De Luca produced last year's Moneyball and a has a whole host of credits from his time as New Line's President of Production.
The first novel and its sequels, Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed, center on the relationship between Anastasia Steele, a recent college graduate, and Christian Grey, a young billionaire who contractually obliges the virginal Steele to be his submissive sexual puppet. The series began as Twilight slash fiction published online under the pseudonym Snowqueens Icedragon, and as it grew more popular, the characters were rewritten from Bella and Edward to Anastasia and Christian. Riding a wave of goodwill principally from female readers, the first book quickly became a number one bestseller and has sold in the neighborhood of 20 million copies.
A sexually-charged film adaptation was pretty much inevitable. Thought Fifty Shades of Grey does not yet have a director or screenwriter, fans have been speculating about casting for quite some time. A more interesting question, though, is which director could make a Fifty Shades of Grey that isn't simply "mommy porn," as the books have been dubbed? In a world with a proper sense of humor, De Luca and Brunetti would pursue Paul Verhoeven and pay him ungodly sums of money to handle this one.
Anyways, here's the official announcement from Universal and Focus:
LOS ANGELES, CA, July 9, 2012—Universal Pictures and Focus Features today announced that veteran producers Michael De Luca and Dana Brunetti will produce Fifty Shades of Grey. De Luca and Brunetti will produce the film based on E L James’ #1 Bestselling book alongside James. The announcement was made by Universal Pictures Co-Chairman, Donna Langley and Focus Features’ Chief Executive Officer, James Schamus.
In March, Universal Pictures and Focus Features announced the acquisition of rights to the entire Fifty Shades Trilogy with Focus Features marketing and distributing the first film in partnership with Universal. To date, Vintage Books has sold 31 million e-book and print copies of the trilogy in English-language markets worldwide. In the U.S. alone, the “Fifty Shades” trilogy has sold over 20 million copies in e-book and print making it one of the fastest selling book series ever.
“At its core, Fifty Shades of Grey is a complex love story, requiring a delicate and sophisticated hand to bring it to the big screen,” said Langley. “Mike and Dana’s credits more than exemplify what we need in creative partners and we’re glad to have them as part of our team.”
“Michael De Luca is a dream producer, whose combination of vision, taste and fearlessness is the perfect match for Fifty Shades of Grey,” said Schamus.
As an award-winning producer, De Luca has made his mark on some of the most critically-acclaimed films of the last few years including 2011’s Best Picture nominee Moneyball starring Brad Pitt as Oakland A’s former general manager, Billy Beane. Brunetti and De Luca served together as producers with Scott Rudin and Cean Chaffin on The Social Network which earned critical accolades, including an Academy Award® nomination for Best Picture. Brunetti and De Luca are collaborating with Scott Rudin on the upcoming Tom Hanks’ film Captain Phillips, the true story of a cargo ship captain held hostage by Somali pirates and rescued by Navy SEALs. Other film credits for De Luca include I Am Sam, Blow, Magnolia, Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me, Wag the Dog, American History X and Boogie Nights. Additional film credits for Brunetti include Casino Jack, 21, Fanboys, Beyond The Sea and Safe.
“I am thrilled that Mike has joined Team Fifty,” said E L James. “He brings a passion for and in-depth understanding of the characters and story, and a wealth of experience in making quality films.”
“Dana and I are both grateful and honored to be invited to join this team,” said De Luca. “We deeply respect and admire the kinds of films Donna, James and Jeb have been responsible for and are very excited to be joining Erika in a collaboration to bring her vision of this once in a lifetime, provocative and resonant love story to the screen.”
“Fifty Shades of Grey” follows the relationship of 27-year-old billionaire Christian Grey and college student Anastasia Steele. Subsequent novels in the series, “Fifty Shades Darker” (September 2011) and “Fifty Shades Freed” (January 2012) explore the couple’s deepening relationship.