The hits — or should we say spanks? — keep on coming for Universal/Focus Features' much ballyhooed movie version of "Fifty Shades of Grey."
A month after lead actor Charlie Hunnam dropped out of the project just weeks before production was to start, the studio pushed back the film's release from Aug. 1, 2014 to Feb. 13, 2015.
Of course, the six-month delay can't be all bad news to hear for its fans: The modified release date positions the film perfectly for Valentine's Day viewing.
Universal hasn't issued a statement about why the film was moved (did they see more potential with a V-Day release, or was pre-production running behind schedule?), but at least there's that silver — er, grey — lining. It might also be about financial incentive for the studio. "Universal will market this kinky sexual relationship film as a date night movie coinciding with Valentine’s Day," writes Mike Fleming Jr.of Deadline. "And in 2015 that weekend runs into President's Day, giving the sexy film a four-day weekend to establish staying power."
It's shaping into a long, strange journey to the big screen for Sam Taylor-Johnson's adaptation of E.L. James's massively popular bestseller.
First there was the endless speculation over exactly who would/should fill in the roles of Anastasia Steele andChristian Grey, roles that would go to Johnson ("The Social Network," "21 Jump Street") and Hunnam, respectively, in early September.
The inevitable backlash would follow, with fans insisting the film's producers got the casting wrong — particularly the male lead; Hunnam was often called too "grungy" for the part (likely given that he was best known for the biker drama "Sons of Anarchy"), and a petition that argued actors Matt Bomer and Alexis Bledel would be better choices received over 90,000 signatures on Change.org.
Hunnam's involvement, didn't last long, though: He exited the project Oct. 12, reportedly because of scheduling conflicts and clashes with the studio over the script (in his first public comments, he didn't say much beyond that "it's been a very busy time.")
And it didn't take Universal long to fill the role, tapping Northern Irish-born underwear model (and actor!) Jamie Dornan for the role, a move that seems to have placated the book's passionate fan base.