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"Fifty Shades of Grey" to be a movie

"Fifty Shades of Grey" by E.L. James
The Writer's Coffee Shop
The cover of "Fifty Shades of Grey," by E.L. James.
Vintage Books

(CBS/AP) NEW YORK - Coming soon to a theater near you: "Fifty Shades of Grey: The Movie."

Universal Pictures and Focus Features announced today that they have acquired the rights to E.L. James' bestselling erotic novel, "Fifty Shades of Grey."

In a joint announcement Monday, Universal and Focus called the word-of-mouth book sensation a "special story." There had been spirited bidding for the film rights, not only because of the book's explosive popularity, but also because it is the first in a trilogy, and could launch a movie franchise.

First released by an Australian publisher, James' novel is an explicit tale about billionaire Christian Grey and college student Anastasia Steele. Vintage Books, a paperback imprint of Random House Inc., recently became the U.S. distributor of "Fifty Shades" and its two follow-ups, "Fifty Shades Darker'' and "Fifty Shades Freed.''

James is a London based writer.