Despite the fact that Fifty Shades of Grey is nothing at all like Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind, it is hard not to make comparisons between the two. Gone with the Wind, at least in terms of casting, like E L James S&M saga, had a bevy of female fans who all knew just who should play Mitchell’s male protagonist in the book. When it came time to adapt the novel into a film, the cry went out to Hollywood. Clark Gable was the obvious choice to play Rhett Butler and so it came to pass. But the storm that arose when Charlie Hunnam was cast as Christian Grey in the Fifty Shades adaptation meant that fans were not happy about the choice. Now that the filmmakers are searching for replacements, it seems that there are at least five reasons why Fifty Shades of Grey will flop, if it even gets made.
The first reason centers right around who will take Hunnam’s place. Four likely candidates have been separated from the rest of Hollywood’s younger leading men. Scott Eastwood, son of Clint; Matt Bomer, star of White Collar; Christian Cooke, an English actor well known in the UK but not the US; and Jamie Dornan, a former Calvin Klein model are all said to be in the running. Although, Dornan, it has been reported, “had a really good read” during his audition.
Any of these four Christian Grey hopefuls could take the job and not be too upset at the paltry sum which they will be paid for their work. The big question is will any of them please the fans? At least in Gone with the Wind, it was an almost foregone conclusion that Gable was the only man alive to play Rhett. But in the case of James’ saga, there are almost as many suggestions as there are fans of the bondage themed books.
When Charlie Hunnam stepped down from the job, it could have seemed like a good thing, but sadly, it looks as though whoever the producers pick to play Grey, fans are not going to be happy. So reason number one, which is the first of the five reasons that Fifty Shades of Grey will flop, would be fan dissatisfaction with casting.
The second reason has to do with budget. When it came to light that Charlie Hunnam was only to receive $125,000 to star as the fetishist Christian Grey, it became apparent that the studios wanted to ride the coattails of the book with very little expenditure on their part. It has been reported that the shooting budget for the film is “shockingly small.” Just how small can be seen by looking at the small sum Hunnam was going to be paid.
So reason number two revolves around the film looking like a cheap piece of schlock that will not satisfy fans of the book who will be expecting a little polish to their fantasy. The studios are asking for acceptance for a film that will presumably have less in the way of money than a television “movie-of-the-week.”
The third reason, which is tied into the first and second, is scripting problems. When the producers had Charlie Hunnam, the script could be fixed relatively inexpensively. Hunnam is a writer, he wrote the screenplay Vlad for Brad Pitt. Charlie had already made some much needed changes to the script before cameras rolled. Although, it has been reported that the director, Sam Taylor-Johnson, put a stop to Hunnam’s re-writing after his initial enthusiasm. Some have said that is the real reason that the Sons of Anarchy star departed the production.
With such a “shockingly small” budget, any rewrites whether needed or not, will not be forthcoming with no money to sequester such work. So reason number three is script issues.
The fourth reason zeros in on fan dissatisfaction of the final product. With all the problems in finding the right actor to play Grey; fans not being pleased at Dakota Johnson’s being chosen to play Anastasia Steele; and the small budget, the female fans will stay away from the cinema in droves. Even if the filmmakers manage to find an actor who most fans like, there will be the opposite faction who hate the leading man chosen.
So the fourth reason is fan lack of support for their fantasy-come-to-life ideal of the film. Producers have tried hard to match the rabid fans wishes, but, in the long run, there is really no way that the film can meet all expectations. Regardless of who winds up starring in the film, they will never be “just right.” Which brings us to reason number five; Dakota Johnson
Reason number five is similar to reason number one. Fan dissatisfaction with the final casting choice and the actress in question being overwhelmed by the role. Johnson went with the film’s producer to meet E L James back in September this year. Apparently, despite the fact that James had no real problem with Dakota playing her female protagonist, a petition was launched on the internet, titled Change.org, that demanded both Charlie Hunnam and Johnson be replaced.
Johnson, who has a small resume compared to Hunnam, was having a hard time dealing with all the instant attention from the media after she was cast. Fan petitions aside, the 24 year-old actress has been speaking of bailing out of the production like her former costar Hunnam. So reason number five, again, comes back to fan dissatisfaction.
Historically, movie adaptations of fan’s favorite books, computer games, or graphic novels, do pretty badly at the box office. Fans who were initially excited that their favorite Stephen King, or fill-in-author’s-name here, end up being bitterly disappointed with the final product. Films that have fallen foul of fans include:
Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events with Jim Carrey; The Da Vinci Code starring Tom Hanks; and The Golden Compass with Sam Elliot, Daniel Craig, and Nicole Kidman are just a few of the films that died at the box office because of fan disappointment.
Although, it should be pointed out that critics are nearly always harsher to “fan films” than the actual fans themselves. Even if disgruntled viewers pass the word on quickly that the film does not deliver. So regardless of who producers pick to be Charlie Hunnam’s replacement, there are still five reasons why Fifty Shades of Grey will flop at the box office. Fifty Shades of Grey has a huge amount of female fans who have all envisioned their own Christian Grey for the film, it is doubtful that any one single actor could fit that imagined “ideal” man. Unlike Gone with the Wind, there are no Clark Gables waiting in the wings to step into Christian Grey’s shoes.
By Michael Smith