Writer picked to pen 'Fifty Shades of Grey' screenplay

(CNN) -- Writer Kelly Marcel has been tapped to pen the screenplay to the film adaptation of "Fifty Shades of Grey," a wildly popular erotic novel that has sold millions of copies worldwide.

The book, by British author Erika Leonard -- who writes under the pseudonym "E L James" -- is the first in a trilogy. Universal Pictures and Focus Features acquired the rights to the books in March, and on Monday released a statement announcing Marcel's inclusion in the project.

Michael De Luca and Dana Brunetti are producing the film, along with James.

"Kelly's work demonstrates her flawless structural technique and passionate commitment to emotion, humor and depth of character which is particularly visible in the celebrated screenplay for the upcoming 'Saving Mr. Banks,'" De Luca said in the statement.

"Saving Mr. Banks," which is currently in production, follows Walt Disney's 20-year effort to acquire the film rights to "Mary Poppins." It will star Tom Hanks, Emma Thompson and Colin Farrell.

Marcel is also known for her work on the Amblin/FOX-TV series "Terra Nova."

"We were all taken with the depth and passion of Kelley's engagement with the characters and world E L James has created and we knew she was the right person to augment our Fifty Shades family," Brunetti said.

"Fifty Shades of Grey" tells the sexually colorful story of a naive young girl's energetic trysts with a 27-year-old billionaire, who possesses, according to the author, "singular erotic tastes."

The trilogy has been translated in 45 languages and sold more than 32 million copies in the United States alone, the statement said.
 


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