TheWrap reports that Van Sant shot the footage, featuring "Magic Mike" star Alex Pettyfer as Christian Grey, as an unsolicited bid to Universal and Focus, who are behind the upcoming movie's distribution. The scene in question depicts the novel's narrator, Anastasia Steele, losing her virginity to the kinky Grey. The identity of the actress playing Steele in the footage has not been confirmed.
Sources say that Pettyfer has not been cast by the studio, only by Van Sant in the footage, though he is set to star in Universal's upcoming remake of "Endless Love," a connection that might improve his chances to secure the part. Van Sant also has a link to the "Fifty Shades" filmmakers, having shot two films for Focus, "Promised Land" and "Milk."
If Van Sant did indeed submit the footage out of the blue, it could indicate that directors are as eager to tackle the adaptation of the erotic novel as studios were to obtain the rights to E.L. James's work. Universal and Focus won a bidding war for the series, paying a reported $3 million, and are looking to turn the three bestselling books into a bankable franchise.
Van Sant's involvement would certainly add some prestige to the project, since he's twice been nominated for Academy Awards. Can he class up the bondage-obsessed books, commonly referred to as "mommy porn"? Only time will tell.