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Christchurch hot and bothered by Fifty Shades

Gill Clark_Ben Mack
UNIMPRESSED: Bookseller Gill Clark says Fifty Shades of Grey is a backwards step for women. Photo: Benjamin Mack

Christchurch has been worked into a tizzy by the film Fifty Shades of Grey.

The steamy flick, based on the best-selling erotic novel of the same name by E.L. James, has raked in $2.83 million since debuting on February 12 according to Box Office Mojo, eclipsing The Wolf of Wall Street to become the highest-grossing R18 film in New Zealand.

Riccarton Hoyts Cinema production manager Ross Griffiths said the film had been the theatre’s “biggest for a while”.

“The book just had so much hype and it carried over to the movie,” he said

But not everyone has been impressed with the film and book series’ success.

“For f…’s sake,” said Gill Clark, bookseller at Scorpio Books in Riccarton. “The prose is appalling. She [E.L. James] can barely string two words together.”

Clark said she was worried what effect the Twilight fan fiction-based empire, which had also spawned cosmetics, lingerie, and even a line of sex toys, might have, particularly in how society treated women.

“What worries me about it is males of a certain age might be inspired by it and think that’s what women really want,” she said. “I just think it’s damaging to young women. It’s going backwards [in terms of gender equality].”

Nevertheless, Kiwis seem to be lapping it up, with up to eight daily showings at the Riccarton Hoyts.

Griffiths said some movie-goers have come back more than twice to catch the Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson-starring film.

Clark said all copies of the book had sold out at Scorpio on Riccarton Rd.

Fifty Shades of Grey has made more than $NZ550 million at theatres worldwide in less than two weeks. Some New Zealand-based organisations, including the conservative Christian group Family First NZ, have called for a boycott of the film, arguing it glamorises sexual violence.

_By Benjamin Mack