‘Fifty Shades’ Lead Roles Announced; Lovehoney Braces Itself

LONDON — Sex toy retailer Lovehoney says it is gearing up for a surge in sales for its award-winning official Fifty Shades merchandise following the announcement of Brit Charlie Hunnam and U.S. actress Dakota Johnson landing the lead roles in the movie.

Author E L James’ announcement ends months of speculation over who would play Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele. The big screen version of the erotic best-seller is out next summer.

Lovehoney — whose U.S. operation is based in Dallas — says it believe the release of the movie will result in a “second surge” of interest in its official Fifty Shades sex toys, soft bondage items and sensual care products including bath and massage oils.

“It has given Lovehoney the opportunity to reach millions of new buyers with its official products — the only ones approved by author E L James,” the company said.

Lovehoney co-founder Neal Slateford said Fifty Shades was easily the biggest sex brand in the world — and the pre-hype and release of the movie was sure to boost sales of its merchandise.

Slateford said, "Fifty Shades is the one sex brand which is recognized throughout the world. People everywhere associate it with naughtiness and fun, and the brand has resulted in sex toys and soft bondage gear well and truly entering the mainstream. It has enabled Lovehoney to break into lots of exciting new markets. The key is the fact that we are working with E L James on the official ranges. Consumers know that she is only going to put her name to products which are of high quality and good value.”

According to Slateford, the books sold 60 million copies last year and they are still selling well — but interest is now switching to the movies.

"Three movies are planned and these should introduce Fifty Shades to a whole new wave of consumers who possibly aren't readers or who haven't had time to pick up the books,” Slateford said. "We are expecting a second surge of interest in products associated with the book.”

Lovehoney beat global competition to land the licensing deals for the official Fifty Shades collections of pleasure products and pharmacy items.

After the deal was announced, E L James said, "This range is what I always imagined while I was writing ‘Fifty Shades of Grey.’ I'm so excited that the toys I described in the books have come to life and can now be enjoyed around the world."