The past seven days

Thursday, February 5, 2015

EL James determined Fifty Shades of Grey ending, not the director.

It would appear that Fifty Shades of Grey author EL James did truly have the last word regarding the film adaptation. The Hollywood Reporter is stating that James managed to overrule director Sam Taylor-Johnson on how the film ends.
It has been said before that when Universal and Focus Features bought the film rights from EL James (aka, Erika Leonard) that she was promised exceptional input and control over the film. Apparently they really weren't kidding about that tidbit as she controlled a lot of the film's production, the script, and had several spats on set with Sam Taylor-Johnson over the creative direction of the film. 

If you are unaware of how the book ends (spoiler alert), Anastasia Steele winds up walking out on Christian Grey after he whips her six times with a leather belt as punishment for her undesirable behavior and for continuously breaking his rules. Granted she asks for it so she can try to fully understand his desires, but in the end she is so disgusted with him that she walks out on the relationship.

According to THR, James pushed for the final word in the film to be "stop" while Taylor-Johnson's preferred ending was the word "red," which was Anastasia's unused safe-word in the book. James' preferred ending came from the original screenplay she wrote with Kelly Marcel while the other ending came from a rewrite that was done by Patrick Marber.
Since the press tour started, Taylor-Johnson has been pretty vocal on her differences with EL James stating that filming was "very difficult" with the author being so involved with every aspect of the shoot. Other insiders claimed that James used every opportunity to flex the power given to her by Universal and it caused unnecessary creative rifts between her, the director, and the actors.
In the end it seems that this all comes down to an author not realizing that movie adaptations are not identical to the books. You do have to change things up a bit and include some aspects that would be missing from a page to page adaptation. Sam Taylor-Johnson and many insiders apparently felt that the ending James pressured them into using might hurt the allure of sequels and viewers won't be as satisfied as they would have been otherwise. Universal has yet to comment on this, but I would bet that if they greenlight movies for Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed that they won't have Taylor-Johnson back. Not unless they restrain EL James.

As someone who read the books both endings confuse me a little bit, especially if James was pushing for such a close adaptation. Anastasia's final interaction with Christian was her walking out and saying goodbye, it wasn't just her telling him to stop. Her final interaction of the book was with Christian's bodyguard, Taylor. If it ends with her just telling Christian to stop they will have left out her actually walking out on him which is a big mistake. On the other hand, if they would have gone with the "red" ending it would have destroyed Ana's arc completely because she never uses the safe-word. It comes heavily into play in the second book because Christian blames her for not using the safe-word and letting him know she couldn't handle what was being done to her.
I figure they probably cut the movie a bit short when it comes to the book because I have no doubt we will get sequels and they had to do something to entice people who haven't read the books for more. The film has already broken pre-sale ticket records and is on track to make over $60 million at the box office, just on opening weekend.

Either way, we will find out in 8 days. 

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