Why isn't this what Anastasia Steele could look like? Dakota Johnson as a brunette earlier this year.

Why isn't this what Anastasia Steele could look like? Dakota Johnson as a brunette earlier this year. Photo: Getty Images

People of Earth. The revolution has not come, the barbarians are not at the gate, this is not the first sign of the apocalypse.

Yes Fifty Shades of Grey is on its way to being a movie, with the announcement of a director and two stars. It is going to be made. You can't stop it. But now is not the time to forswear cinema-going for the rest of your life.

In fact, there is just a chance that Fifty Shades of Grey the movie might be, if not objectively good, then at least a whole lot better than the book.

Charlie Hunnam has been cast as Christian Grey in the film version of Fifty Shades of Grey.

Charlie Hunnam has been cast as Christian Grey in the film version of Fifty Shades of Grey. Photo: Frazer Harrison

Let's set the context. When it comes to Fifty Shades of Grey, don't think about erotic fiction and BDSM. Think rather of Harry Potter and Twilight.

The former made it acceptable for adults to read children's fantasy. The latter introduced the young adult genre to the mainstream. In doing so they both spawned commercial empires and, more to the point, mega movie franchises that set financial records, launched careers and forever altered the conventions of film title punctuation (thank you The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part I).

Crucially, unlike book series that did well in their genre's demographic, but not outside of it – Percy Jackson, Beautiful Creatures, The Mortal Instruments - these series enticed fans and non-fans to the cinema in equal measure.

That is what Fifty Shades of Grey wants to do. Lure the 70 million readers (based on reported sales) to buy a ticket, whether it is out of fealty, pride, defiance or curiosity. Lure everyone else to follow suit, if only to find out what all the fuss is about.

Yes, there may also be a desire to tell E.L. James' story, but in this particular relationship, commercial enterprise is the dominant, artistic endeavour the submissive.

Yet, it is the story at the heart of this book, paired with its R-rated action, that may just result in good filmmaking. The makers won't have any choice; this material won't work as a film as it stands.

Fifty Shades of Grey has more in common with Twilight than just a huge fan base. It is common knowledge that it started as a fleshed-out (in more ways than one) piece of fan fiction that was originally written with the title Master of the Universe, featuring Bella, Edward and other Twilight characters.

More to the point, in the same way that Twilight is a teen romance with the supernatural layered over it, Fifty Shades of Grey is also a teen romance. A young adult story laced with super-adult erotica.

It is not, as radio sound bites and dinner party conversation would have us all believe, just a series of sexual romps starring whips and leather. That comes later in the series. The only scene of extreme BDSM (bondage and discipline, Sadism and Masochism) in the first story occurs at the end.

Until then it is a story of an innocent girl's quest to form a relationship with an emotionally damaged not-much-older man. His story of sexual awakening as a teen is crucial. Her's takes place here, alongside more discussion of contracts than you'd find in a second-year law class.

Yes, there is sex in it. Plenty. But there is also a lot of angst, obsession and frustration. The sort of first-adult-relationship tale that we know far, far too well.

The Twilight films didn't have a problem with this. They embraced it. Stephenie Meyer as author happily defanged vampires, rendering them into glittery, mysterious sighs on legs. Werewolves are noble savages with limited wardrobe budgets. Angst was everything.

So the films just projected the teen hormone-laced story onto the screen, and the movies suffered for it. No adaptation required. Scene for scene. Sigh for sigh. Twilight the book was Twilight the script. Fans embraced the familiar. Non-fans cringed at it all.

E.L. James went the other way. Her hero, Christian Grey, has a fortune, a shadowy past and a wardrobe not only filled with clothing but also outfits whose accessories he purchases in hardware stores such as the one in which our innocent heroine Anastasia earns her pocket money.

So director Sam Taylor-Johnson and screenwriter Kelly Marcel can't just offer this up as it stands (or kneels submissively). The teen core and adult exterior will require extensive adaptation. That's good news. That's where good cinema comes from.

It's also risky, and that's where the directorial and acting decisions make sense, despite some fans' outcries.

Charlie Hunnam is not just the star of Pacific Rim and Sons of Anarchy, he also played Nathan the teen boy love interest in the original Queer as Folk. He has already shown and done it all on screen, at a far younger age.

Dakota Johnson is the daughter of Don Johnson and Melanie Griffith, who was Miss Golden Globe in 2006 (an odd pageant-like title for celebrity children associated with the awards) and whose celebrity lifestyle has taken in everything from modelling to rehab.

They're under the direction of Taylor-Johnson, who married the star of her only feature film, Nowhere Boy, when she was 42 and he was 19.

This is a team that will take risks on screen. This is a film that isn't going to shy away from the controversial.

They are also all skilled. Hunnam and Johnson are both promising actors. Nowhere Boy was a great piece of direction, elegantly portraying John Lennon's own teen angst. That partly explains how Taylor-Johnson got the gig ahead of a list of names that supposedly included Angelina Jolie, Steven Soderbergh, Joe Wright and Gus Van Sant.

Best of all, the words themselves will go. James' writing style is of a quality that prompted Salman Rushdie to suggest that “Fifty Shades of Grey makes Twilight look like War and Peace”.

The sentences that first told this story will, it is hoped, be "adapted" in the way agent orange adapts a herb garden.

Taylor-Johnson is the right gardener for the job. She has beaten colon cancer and breast cancer. She has posed nude with her now husband.

“I took on cancer like I take on everything: like a mission and a job to accomplish,” she told Harper's Bazaar once.

She won't shy away from embracing the subject matter, nor ruthless change.

It's unlikely Universal Pictures or the producers will complain. They purchased the name and the audience.

What about the sex? Many have suggested that the scenes in the book can't be shown in a film. Or if they are, they will lose their essence.

Well, mainstream cinema is hardly having its chastity belt unlocked for the very first time.

In 1992, Basic Instinct turned the sex up to 11 on a noir plot and spawned a body of duplicates, including Madonna's Body of Evidence, but also such films as Disclosure, Showgirls, Sliver and Striptease. These are the films people are thinking of and, perhaps rightly, pointing at as examples of trashing the story for skin.

That's just one style though. Big-name directors have had extreme sex scenes in films ranging from Mulholland Drive to Antichrist, with a detour for a Last Tango in Paris before taking in nearly any film Pedro Almodovar has made.

Sexual practices themselves have been the focus of many a film. Eyes Wide Shut, Shame, Crash, Secretary and the Australian film Sleeping Beauty have been critically admired while exploring various aspects of the topic. Boogie Nights went one step further and made a “bright shining star” of Mark Wahlberg while making a film about making pornography and it certainly didn't leave much to the imagination.

More recently on television, HBO has given us the term “sexposition” as such shows as True Blood, Sex and the City and Game of Thrones took advantage of their cable channel home to see just how much they could get away with.

Sex is not new to cinema. Sex is not inherently cheap or sensational in cinema. Sex on screen requires a deft touch.

So does teen angst. If that isn't handled well it is an act of sadism in itself.

To combine both on screen will require a lot of adaptation. Risk taking. Change.

All good things in a movie.

Over to you, Sam.