THE author of the hit erotic novel Fifty Shades Of Grey has been in Hollywood this week, meeting producers about adapting her work for a film.
Such well-established names as Ron Howard and Brian Grazer (the team behind Frost/Nixon), Nina Jacobson (who brought Hunger Games to the screen) and the very cerebral Focus Features boss James Schamus are reportedly vying to make Fifty Shades Of Grey: The Movie.
The hope is clearly to turn EL James' novel and its sequels into an adult version of Twilight or Hunger Games.
It's a moot point, though, whether the millions of (mainly women) readers who've lapped up the descriptions of the heroine naked, "spreadeagled on a large four poster bed", can now be lured to a multiplex.
There is an obvious difference between consuming erotic fiction discreetly on an e-reader and queuing up to watch scenes of bondage and sadomasochism while munching on popcorn.
The race to bring Fifty Shades to the screen seems also incongruous, given Hollywood's well-known prudishness.
As Kirby Dick's 2006 documentary This Film Is Not Yet Rated revealed, the "anonymous group of parents" in southern California who help decide ratings for the MPAA are intensely suspicious of imagery showing female sexual pleasure.
In Europe and Asia, there is a tradition of well-respected auteurs dealing with sexuality in a frank and unsettling way.
Bernardo Bertolucci's The Dreamers, Liliana Cavani's Last Tango In Paris or Steve McQueen's Shame are films with graphic sexual content that are treated respectfully by critics.
Historically, sex in Hollywood movies doesn't necessarily sell.
The patchy box office performances of 9 1/2 Weeks and Stanley Kubrick's Eyes Wide Shut suggests that mass audiences don't really want to see such fare in cinemas.
One guesses that Fifty Shades will somehow have metamorphosed into a mainstream romantic blockbuster by the time it reaches your local cinema.
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