Is the 50 Shades Movie Doomed By Pre-Release Press?

The people involved in making the movie don't sound so enthusiastic.

One of the biggest books of all time, 50 Shades of Grey, is heading to theaters this Friday, just in time for Valentine’s Day. We’ll say with relative confidence that with millions of fans out there eager to see how the book translates to the screen, it’s going to have a big opening. But TBH, if you haven’t read the book (I have not) and were only judging by what you’re reading about the movie, you’ll probably see American Sniper again or something.

The first thing that popped to mind when I heard this was going to be made into a movie was how exactly something reportedly so kinky was going to get the R rating needed to really make the big bucks. Now there’s talk of there only being 20 minutes of sex in the movie, which has a run time of 100 minutes. So that’s how you do it: You take a book about sex and strip the sex from it.

Then there’s talk about the director, Sam Taylor-Johnson (a woman, FYI) and the 50 Shades author E.L. James not getting along on set. Discord behind the scenes tends to show up on screen.

But more important than both of these things is the buzz about how much the two lead actors — Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson — can’t stand each other. This movie only works if there’s chemistry between the two leads. Like intense “tie me up, tie me down” chemistry. But you have quotes like this coming from them while they’re doing press for the movie (this was in an interview they did on the Today show):

Natalie Morales: What is it like shooting together. I mean, is there that instant chemistry?
Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson: [Shake heads no.]
Natalie Morales: No. You hate each other.
Jamie Dornan [Nods head yes.]
Dakota Johnson: [Studies ceiling.]
Natalie Morales: He’s hard to work with?

Dakota Johnson: [Loud exhale.]

Jezebel has been following the press tour closely in its coverage of the movie and it’s been post after post presenting proof of just how little chemistry these two have. And the evidence they present is taken from the words of the people who are directly involved in the making of this insane piece of cinema. They simply do not sound enthusiastic at all about what they’ve gotten themselves into.

Without some sort of excitement generated pre-release, you’re not going to get people unfamiliar with the story into the theaters. This is especially important given the fact that we’re in Oscar season and moviegoers are spending all of their money trying to see the Best Picture nominees before the statues are handed out in a few weeks.

Actors, especially actors who are promoting their own work, might not seem like the people most in need of media training. But if there was any indication that Dornan and Dakota weren’t exactly getting along before the movie wrapped, there needed to be a strategy to generate some positive energy while they were making the rounds. Seriously, this Glamour clip is a hot mess.