This story first appeared in the March 13 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
As Fifty Shades of Grey continues to whip up big numbers at the box office ($410.6 million worldwide at press time), producers are getting hot and bothered over a slew of other erotic books in development.
“I’m sure now everybody is going to be walking into studios pitching, ‘It’s Fifty Shades meets this or that,’ ” says Offspring Entertainment producer Jennifer Gibgot, who got an early jump on a steamy adaptation in October when she and partner Adam Shankman optioned After, a fan-fiction series turned novel by Anna Todd. The story, centering on a virginal Washington State college student named Tessa who meets a tattooed classmate named Harry (based on One Direction’s Harry Styles), was first released via the online Wattpad community and later published by Gallery Books. Offspring and Paramount scooped up the rights to the series (which has more than 1 billion reads on Wattpad) and are now hiring a writer. “Because it’s set in college, I feel like we have Fifty Shades for the younger generation,” says Gibgot.
Another erotic fan-fiction tale, Beautiful Bastard, which was first released online as a Twilight-inspired story before being published by Gallery Books in 2013, is in development by producer Jeremy Bolt. Stephanie Sanditz adapted Christina Hobbs and Lauren Billings‘ novel — which has 1.5 million copies in print — about an MBA student who begins a torrid love-hate relationship with her intense and irresistible boss. “In the wake of Fifty Shades, I’m hoping people interested in adaptations discover that romance represents one of the deepest untapped wells of IP in the business,” says Waxman Lit’s Holly Root, Hobbs and Billings’ agent.
MGM also has fallen for romance, developing an adaptation of On the Island by Tracey Garvis Graves. Nick Mariani penned the first draft of the story about a 30-year-old English teacher who is stranded on a deserted island with her 16-year-old student, and The Vow writers Marc Silverstein and Abby Kohn are working on a new draft. While the book doesn’t have the same level of eroticism that Fifty Shades contained, it’s a passionate tale of romance between an unexpected pair.
Another racy romance tale is making its way to TV, with Lionsgate developing Sylvia Day‘s popular Crossfire book series for the small screen. While Day’s planned quintet (the first three novels sold more than 15 million copies worldwide) lacks the S&M aspect of Fifty Shades, it has more frequent and graphic sex scenes describing an impassioned romance between an ambitious young woman working in the advertising world and a billionaire businessman. “I expect viewers will see an adaptation that ties How to Get Away With Murder into The Affair into Sex and the City,” Day tells THR of the likely pay-cable project. “I can’t wait.”