By early 2013, several Hollywood studios were keen to obtain film rights to the New York Times bestselling Fifty Shades trilogy of novels. Warner Bros., Sony, Paramount, Universal and Mark Wahlberg’s production company put in bids for the film rights. Universal Pictures and Focus Features secured the rights to the trilogy in March 2012.
Author James sought to retain some control during the movie’s creative process. James chose The Social Network producers Michael De Luca and Dana Brunetti to produce the film. Although American Psycho writer Bret Easton Ellis publicly expressed his desire to write the screenplay for the film, Kelly Marcel, screenwriter of Saving Mr. Banks, was hired for the job.
Patrick Marber was brought in by Taylor-Wood to polish the screenplay, specifically to do some “character work”. Universal hired Mark Bomback for script doctoring. Mark Bridges served as the costume designer. Entertainment Weekly estimated the film’s budget as “$40 million-or-so”.