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How much sex will be in 'Fifty Shades of Grey' movie?

8:03 PM, Sep 8, 2013   |    comments
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(USA TODAY) -- After the bombshell casting announcement for Fifty Shades of Grey -- the furor still burns one week later -- other key questions about the upcoming film fire up speculation.

How much sex will be portrayed on the big screen?

E. L. James' erotic best seller is filled with vivid scenes of kinky sex between S&M-loving Christian Grey (to be portrayed by Charlie Hunnam) and Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson). But finding the right balance onscreen is going to be a key task for director Sam Taylor-Johnson.

"She is going to have to walk a very fine line," says Melissa Silverstein, editor of the Women and Hollywood blog on indiewire.com. "That's the $1,000 question. Are they going to push things to a different level?"

The filmmakers have already made clear that the adaptation will remain an R-rated (restricted) movie and they will not push the sexual content to an NC-17 rating by the Motion Picture Association of America.

"Historically, the NC-17 rating has dramatically impacted box office. It's the kiss of death in most cases," says Kirby Dick, director of This Film Is Not Yet Rated, a 2006 documentary about the MPAA rating system.

This is not to say that filmmakers won't shoot steamier scenes for an unrated version, perhaps for DVD or special release, and then edit the main film for the needed R rating.

Twilight director Catherine Hardwicke says the filmmakers might not want to go too far. Hardwicke is working on the sexually charged thriller Plush, due out in October. She originally intended on portraying explicit sex onscreen.

But focus group members who saw the early film cuts were uncomfortable watching the scenes on the big screen in a public setting.

"People were surprised to see something so sexual," says Hardwicke. "I thought after the success of (the novel) Fifty Shades of Grey that people would be totally excited to see it. But it was too intense. It's a whole different feeling on the screen."

Hardwicke said she made slight modifications to her movie and it was a lesson learned.

"In the end, people are still uptight and nervous about sexuality in movies," she says.

What's the film's timetable?

The Aug.1, 2014, release date gives the filmmakers a strict, but "manageable," timetable to shoot and edit the film, says Erik Davis, contributing editor of the movie ticket website Fandango.com. With production beginning in the autumn, he expects a key Fifty Shades of Grey teaser trailer to be shown in the winter.

"That first look will be everything," says Davis. "It will show the world just how much chemistry these actors have together. That trailer will prove whether there will be aFifty Shades of Grey franchise."

Hunnam said Saturday that during Fifty Shades of Grey auditions he had "tangible chemistry" with Johnson.

"It felt kind of exciting and fun and weird and compelling, and so that was it," he toldThe Hollywood Reporter.

What about the casting?

There's still another hot couple yet to be announced -- Anastasia Steele's best friend, Kate Kavanagh, and Elliot Grey, Christian's studly brother. The two have their own steamy relationship in the novel after meeting in a bar. There's also Steele's platonic boyfriend, Jose Rodriguez.

The filmmakers have signaled that decisions and announcements of these actors will be expedited after the main stars were announced last week.

"They are important roles," says Davis. "But the big announcement is done. Let's just say people won't be starting petitions about these casting decisions."

Will the casting furor die?

An online petition on Change.org calling for fan-favorites Matt Bomer and Alexis Bledel to be placed in the lead roles has about 66,000 signatures. But Hardwicke just laughs about the fuss, remembering how Twilight fans reacted to Robert Pattinson when she cast him as the lead vampire.

"They freaked out then, and look how that turned out," says Hardwicke. "This too shall pass."

Silverstein believes the filmmakers don't mind that people are debating or even decrying the movie.

"They love that everyone is talking about this movie that hasn't even started filming yet," she says. "They have another year to keep this conversation going."

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