Judg­ing by the not-safe-for-work trail­ers, the Fifty Shades se­quel is des­tined to spice up cin­e­mas just in time for Valen­tine’s Day

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - MOVIES -

Two years af­ter the bonk­buster film Fifty Shades of Grey had housewives reach­ing for the smelling salts, its se­quel re­unites Chris­tian, Anas­ta­sia and a va­ri­ety of tools that re­ally ought to be kept in a rid­ing sta­ble. North­ern Ir­ish­man Jamie Dornan and US ac­tor Dakota John­son re­turn as the kinky cou­ple in Fifty Shades Darker, the next in­stal­ment of E.L. James’s best­selling “mommy porn” nov­els.

Ex­pand­ing on events set in mo­tion in 2015’s box of­fice smash that opened on $85 mil­lion in the United States and grossed more than $571 mil­lion glob­ally, the movie hits Aus­tralian cin­e­mas to­day – just in time for Valen­tine’s Day.

Ex­pect an­other heady blend of erotic sub­mis­sion, bondage and ball gowns as James Fo­ley takes over the di­rec­tor’s chair from Sam Tay­lor-John­son, who re­port­edly clashed with the au­thor dur­ing the film­ing of the orig­i­nal.

The follow-up picks up where we left the char­ac­ters, with a wounded Chris­tian Grey try­ing to en­tice the cau­tious Ana back into his life as shad­owy fig­ures from his past start to cir­cle.

“We pull out all the stops,” Dornan, 34, told re­porters as Hol­ly­wood rolled out the red car­pet for the pre­miere at the Ace Ho­tel.

“If you’re mak­ing a se­quel to any­thing, I think there has to be some kind of ad­vance­ment on the first.

“You have to go a bit big­ger in a lot of ar­eas and I don’t think this film’s any dif­fer­ent.”

Fo­ley shot Fifty Shades Darker and the fi­nal in­stal­ment, Fifty Shades Freed, si­mul­ta­ne­ously, with the three­quel slated for a 2018 re­lease. Dornan, who has two young daugh­ters with wife Amelia Warner, has be­come a world­wide sex sym­bol since the first movie, but in­sists his role hasn’t in­flu­enced his sex life.

He told GQ Aus­tralia’s Fe­bru­ary edi­tion that bondage “doesn’t float my boat,” although he added: “I’ve al­ways been open-minded and lib­eral – I’d never judge any­one’s sex­ual pref­er­ence.” Universal has been shrewdly build­ing an­tic­i­pa­tion with not­safe-for-work trail­ers in­volv­ing un­der­wear be­ing jet­ti­soned at din­ner and a raunchy, hand­son dis­play in an el­e­va­tor.

The mar­ket­ing ap­pears to be work­ing, with the film top­ping so­cial me­dia buzz with 246,000 new con­ver­sa­tions last week, ac­cord­ing to data an­a­lyst comS­core.

That’s 86,000 more than the next most talked-about movie, Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

Don’t ex­pect it to achieve the Star Wars- sized numbers that the orig­i­nal man­aged, how­ever, as it has com­pe­ti­tion from Lionsgate’s ac­tion se­quel John Wick and the hotly an­tic­i­pated Warner Bros re­lease The LEGO Bat­man Movie.

Pre-re­lease track­ing sug­gests Fifty Shades will open in the $35 mil­lion to $40 mil­lion range, still a big win for a movie made for around $55 mil­lion. Sev­eral sup­port ac­tors are re­turn­ing from the orig­i­nal, in­clud­ing Mar­cia Gay Har­den, who won an Os­car for her por­trayal of painter Lee Kras­ner in Pol­lock (2000) and the Bri­tish singer Rita Ora.

They are joined by a cast of new­com­ers in­clud­ing Kim Basinger – an­other Os­car­win­ner – as Chris­tian’s ex Elena, the woman who in­tro­duced him to BDSM.

Bella Heath­cote, 34 years younger than Basinger, plays an­other ex, Leila, while Eric John­son is Ana’s new boss, Jack Hyde.

John­son said she felt more com­fort­able film­ing the sex scenes this time around.

“It’s never re­ally easy, but this time it was def­i­nitely not com­pletely un­charted waters, Jamie and I ob­vi­ously hav­ing known each other for a long time now.” Fifty Shades Darker is out in all ma­jor cin­e­mas to­day.

Jamie Dornan and Dakota John­son steam up the screen for Fifty Shades Darker.

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