This is now one of the hottest and biggest films of 2015. Most knew it would do well pulling in the throngs of women who have poured over the trilogy of novels like moths to a flame (with over a 100 million copies sold!). However the film has surpassed expectations this weekend with a massive record breaking $81.7 million U.S. and a whopping cum$266 million since it opened on Valentines day, making it the highest R (U.S.) rated film of all time. To put this into perspective, Fifty Shades of Grey has taken ~$10 million on its opening in Australia alone which is a phenomenal figure when you think it’s only on 523 screens nationally as compared to the 3600 locations in the U.S.
This romance with a hint of S&M is surprisingly entertaining. Having not read the book I was curious to see how the movie would play out. In fact upon hearing of the staggering numbers for its opening weekend I did something I haven’t done in probably 10 years. I went to the movies on a Monday night to satisfy my curiosity.
Previously attracted to Jamie Dornan as the serial killer, Paul Spektor in the fascinating show The Fall, I was keen to see him in the billionaire playboy role of Christian Grey. Dornan did not disappoint, but the stand out performance in this erotic romance is the daughter of former Hollywood power couple Melanie Griffiths and Don Johnson, Dakota Johnson. At times showing an uncanny resemblance to a younger version of her mother she was the perfect mix of sensual, innocent and timid Anastasia Steele who later shows us her powerful side.
You see for every Fifty Shades fan on the planet there must be 10 haters. People have viewed the books as chauvinistic, mummy porn, pro-domestic violence and above all else anti-feminist. The key issue being the acceptance of a woman to submit to her dominate and controlling boyfriend as Anastasia Steel does – or so I was led to believe. Instead I saw a young women who slowly falls for the charm and mystery of a deeply hurt and disturbed man. In a story that clearly sets out the boundaries of consent between two adults, its an intriguing interplay. We are introduced to Grey as the handsome and successful billionaire, however it isn’t too long before we realise that his scars run deep – having been abused in his infancy and later in his formidable years by a friend of his mothers.
Steele consents to all sexual acts performed on her (which surprisingly were tame despite the hype) and goes so far as to challenge the controlling Grey on a number of occasions questioning his behaviour and negotiating terms of her own. What is most interesting is that there is no “binding” contract executed between the parties despite the persistence of Grey, which further fuels the basis for an argument that the parties in some respects do have equal power. **Spoiler alert – It’s Steele that ultimately walks away at the end leaving a disturbed and confused Grey hanging – yet at all times she is free to leave.
It is unlikely the film will maintain this level of momentum heading into the following weeks, but with a total production cost of approximately $40 million this film directed by Sam Taylor-Johnson is already well and truly in the black.
Universal’s gamble to open this non-traditional love tale on the Valentines weekend has paid off in spades. What’s next for the love struck Steele and her broody beau? Well looks like we all need to wait for the sequel, which given these numbers is guaranteed to happen sooner rather than later.