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‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ Has Higher Movie Awareness Than ‘Twilight,’ ‘Hunger Games’

But translating female-skewing numbers into ticket sales is Universal’s challenge

Consumer awareness on “Fifty Shades of Grey,” the upcoming movie adaptation of E.L. James’ bestselling erotic novel, is among the highest entertainment researchers have seen this far out from release for an original film.

“Fifty Shades,” which stars Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson, doesn’t open for 10 days. But awareness levels for the R-rated and sexy romance from Universal Pictures and Focus Features are higher than those of the first installments of the “Twilight” or “Hunger Games” film franchises, data researchers told TheWrap Tuesday.

The levels are more in line with those for the sequel to a hit movie, say data experts, or the third and fourth installment of a well-liked franchise. Percentage-wise, awareness on “Fifty Shades” is in the high 80s-low 90s, compared to the mid-50s and mid-70s for other first-installment releases based on bestselling book series.

The challenge for “Fifty Shades” marketers is to translate that into ticket sales for the film, which actually has strong awareness levels among men, but skews very much toward women. To that end, the campaign has emphasized the love story more than the bondage and edgy sex that made the book controversial – and wildly popular.

“Fifty Shades” is the fastest-selling paperback ever in the United States and, with James’ two follow-up novels, has sold more than 100 million copies worldwide.

So far, emphasizing the romance elements seems to be working. “Fifty Shades” is tracking for a box-office opening north of $50 million when it debuts on Friday, Feb. 13, the day before Valentine’s Day. The following Monday is Presidents Day, so it will be a four-day weekend.