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Berlin: ‘Fifty Shades’ Dominates Red Carpet Premiere

The chilly Berlin Film Festival heated up dramatically Wednesday night with the premiere of Universal’s “Fifty Shades of Grey,” which was warmly received by the fest crowd.

Helmer Sam Taylor-Johnson said she found the books cinematic and interesting, “but it was really important that it was a love story.” She added that one of her favorite days of shooting was when Dakota Johnson as Anastasia ad-libbed a scene in which she drunk dials Christian (Jamie Dornan) from a bar.

Dornan (clean shaven in the film) arrived in full beard and said he feels more comfortable with full facial hair. The actor admitted he wished that he had more than four weeks to prep before filming began. When asked how he felt about showing so much of his body onscreen, he replied, “As human beings we spend a lot of the time naked, so to me it wasn’t a big deal.”

Both Dornan and Johnson said their favorite scene was the one in the negotiation room where their characters hammer out the finer points of the domination contract.

Johnson was  gracious on the red carpet, signing endless autographs and posing for photos with the crowd. She expressed dismay with her hair: “I feel like my bangs are doing something weird.”

Inside the theater prior to the screening, Taylor-Johnson, Dornan and Johnson were introduced from the stage. The announcer, however, referred to author E.L. James by her given name, Erika Mitchell.

The film was scheduled to screen three times on Wednesday, starting with a 10 a.m. screening added at the last minute, followed by a 5 p.m. show at CineStar Imax in the Sony Center that drew such a large crowd that management opened the theater an hour early and started the show 15 minutes ahead of time. A crowd of 30 who didn’t get into the film were hollering at the theater’s usher. Three police officers were on hand as a precaution.

There were some giggles in places where the filmmakers probably didn’t want them, but for the most part, the crowd went along for the ride. The giant-screen Imax format added an immersive intensity and intimacy to the film.

German TV crews were outside the theater after the screening was over, interviewing women about their reactions.

All of this added to the event nature of the screening. Grey’s garage full of sexy Audis in the film was an unintentional, uh, tie-in to one of the Berlinale’s biggest sponsors.

Despite Taylor-Johnson’s announcement at a fan event in New York that sequels “Fifty Shades Darker” and “Fifty Shades Freed” will be made, the team was mum on details Wednesday.

The film, while not competing for the top prizes in Berlin, is a part of what’s dubbed a Berlinale Special screening and didn’t premiere in the main Berlinale Palast auditorium but at the Zoo Palast, two miles from the fest’s center at Potsdamer Platz. The “Fifty Shades” entourage now heads to London on Thursday for a splashy premiere at Odeon Leicester Square followed by a private party.

The racy movie is tracking to open at $60 million over Valentine’s Day weekend, and online ticketing site Fandango said it’s the fastest-selling R-rated title in the site’s 15-year history.

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