In a phenomenon that whipped its way around the world topping international bestseller lists, it wasn't long before EL James erotic fantasy Fifty Shades of Grey about student Anastasia Steele and dominant billionaire Christian Grey had its film rights acquired by Universal Pictures in March 2012. Most of the film's details are still cloaked in mystery but after learning that British Sam Taylor-Johnson (Nowhere Boy) will direct the film, The Wrap reports that it's due to hit cinemas on 1st August next year (2014) in the USA, with international release dates announced later.

Sam Taylor Johnson
Nowhere Boy's Sam Taylor-Johnson To Direct Fifty Shades of Grey.

Though no actors have officially been announced, speculation is rife as to who will bear the whips and chains in the film. Current bookies favourite is Mad Men actress Alexis Bledel, with odds of 5/1. A cheeky representative from one bookmakers said: "We've seen a ton of money on Alexis Bledel and it's clear punters fancy her for the role - we'll be facing a spanking payout if she's tied down for the role." Bledel is followed by Amanda Seyfried, Game of Thrones' Emilia Clarke, Felicity Jones (Cemetary Juntion), and Sasha Grey (err...ex-pornstar). For the role of sadomasochistic business magnate Grey, Ladbrokes' current favourite is The Vampire Diaries' Ian Somerhalder with odds of 4/1, Sunshine actor Cillian Murphy (6/1), and Drive's Ryan Gosling (5/1).

Alexis Bledel
Alexis Bledel Has The HIghest Odds To Play Anastasia Steele.

In a franchise dismissed by many as badly-written 'mummy porn', it has served as an introduction to erotic writing for many. With this in mind, it will be interesting to see how this is received in a cinema - will fans enjoy seeing the sexual antics of the two characters, or will the brought to life BDSM induce nervous squirming in theatre seats? Although the film's rating is still up in the air, it's expected to be maximally raunchy - screen writer Kelly Marcel told The Sunday Times that "we are 100 percent going there ... It will be rated NC-17. It will be raunchy." So perhaps leave the kids at home?

Cillian Murphy
He's Got The Suit: Could Cillian Murphy Play Christian Grey?