The Fifty shades phenomenon

How Fifty Shades conquered St Valentine's day

The thrilling climax to the Fifty Shades film trilogy, Fifty Shades Freed, soon hits cinemas on 9th February. We take a closer look at the series’ evolution, from a book series to a billion dollar movie franchise!

Loose control....

Seduction - The books...

It’s hard to believe but Fifty Shades Of Grey, the first book in E L James’ erotic adults-only trilogy, began life as a Twilight fan fiction. After reading Stephenie Meyer’s best-selling books, James began posting her own tales set in Meyer’s world on – a small, online writers community. 

Unfortunately, some of these stories were a little too steamy and James was asked to take them down. By this point however, she’d been well and truly ‘bitten’ by the writing bug and decided to create a universe and characters of her own.

Enter Christian Grey, a business magnate with a penchant for BDSM (erotic practises involving bondage, dominance and submission) and naive college graduate Anastasia ‘Ana’ Steele, yet to be versed in the ways of the bedroom...


The success at a glance

  • James created her own website – – where she self-published the book Fifty Shades Of Grey, selling an impressive 30,000 e-copies in the space of a year. The book went on to sell an astonishing 70 million copies worldwide and the two sequels -  Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed - have collectively sold 100 million copies.   
  • The books changed the dominant  idea that erotic mainstream stories are targeted at men, becoming a success among women and focusing the plot on the female prospective about desire.
  • Anastasia Steel and Christian Gray became two iconic characters in the contemporary pop culture. The Fifty Shades universe is currently 28th on the top 100 best things in pop culture published by Entertainment!. 

Romance - The first two films....Valentine's Day 2015 + 2017

Not surprisingly, given the level of public interest (mostly among women, but lots of men too), the film rights for the Fifty Shades trilogy were snapped up at the same time as those of the books. 

Directed by Sam Taylor-Johnson and starring Jamie Dornan as Christian Grey and Dakota Johnson as Anastasia Steele, Fifty Shades Of Grey was released the day before Valentine’s Day in 2015, and promptly caused box office pandemonium, eventually taking $ 571 million around the world.

An adaptation of the second book – Fifty Shades Darker – was released in 2016. “Every fairy tale has a dark side” promised the tagline for the film, and it was as good as its word. Glossy and candid, audiences lapped it up to the global tune of $ 380 million.


The success at a glance

  • Fifty Shades is the most successful 18-rated movie franchise in the UK box office history.  
  • Audiences loved Jamie Dornan and  Dakata Johnson as Christian and Ana, and were ‘thrilled’ with the unconventional – and decidedly naughty – bedroom antics the two actors were involved in.  After these films, the two actors became A-list stars.  
  • The actual characters Christian Grey and Anastasia Steel have their own Twitter accounts with more than 325k followers.... 

Climax - The last chapter...Valentine's Day 2018

February 9th sees the release of the third and final chapter in the movie trilogy and, as climaxes go, Fifty Shades Freed promises to be an absolute screamer. 

The storyline sees our young lovers tying the knot – in lavish fashion – and beginning what they hope will be a long and fulfilling marriage. For a little while at least, everything is fairytale-like: there’s a new job for Ana, a new house for them both and plenty of exciting new ‘games’. Before you can say “Red Room”, however, Christian’s murky past is back to haunt them. Can the new Mr and Mrs Grey ever truly be happy?  


The success at a glance

  • A great supporting cast: Rita Ora returns as Christian's sister and Bella Heathcote will play one of his former submissives; two Oscar winners are also in the cast - Kim Basinger as the lady known as Mrs. Robinson and Marcia Gay Harden as Christian's mom. 


  • The film's soundtrack is again one of the sexiest:  Rita Ora and Liam Payne teamed up for the lead song, while Jamie Dornan will also perform a song....


  • The film seems to bring some more action -  outside of the bedroom. In between a car chase, hidden gun and knives being pulled, Fifty Shades Darker delivers an unexpected extra punch that moves the film to the thriller zone...
Beautiful Boy
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