Drive (movie)

'Fifty Shades of Grey' and the dawn of movie hate-watching

That the softcore seductions of Sam Taylor-Johnson's "Fifty Shades of Grey" proved a box office hit this weekend was a surprise, at least when viewed through the lens of early expectations.

After Universal and its (then-prestige) subsidiary Focus Features won rights to a furious bidding war for E.L. James' complete literary oeuvre in 2012, many questioned whether all the money, and the cocktail-party mockery, was worth it. After all, "Fifty Shades of Grey" was the kind of book that had a certain flash-in-the-pan quality. And that flash was likely to go out by the time the studio was finally able to finish and release a movie.

What's more, the material had...