Sex, understandably, has received the bulk of the attention in reports so far on the first trailer from Fifty Shades of Grey, a clip that features a remake of Beyoncé and Jay Z’s 2003 party-romance anthem. Considering the film adaptation of the bestselling, BDSM-themed book centers on a relationship with a billionaire, though, there’s another logical focus: money. No matter how you tie up the numbers, Grey should make Bey a lot of it.
The trailer, which premiered this morning on Today and is set to a sex dungeon-ready version of “Crazy in Love,” already has more than 200,000 views on YouTube. The same clip embedded directly on Yonce’s Facebook page boasts nearly 250,000 “likes” and has been shared more than 100,000 times. When the complete track arrives, no doubt followed by a full soundtrack, the leader of this year’s MTV Video Music Awards nominations will have many more chances to monetize the re-recorded song.
Remakes can, perhaps counterintuitively, be more lucrative than their originals. As Jeff Leeds reported in The New York Times several years ago, various veteran pop and rock acts have taken to re-recording their hits for movie trailers, commercials and TV shows. The arrangement allows bands to keep licensing money they would’ve had to split with the label if the track was made under a standard record contract.
Although an artist like “Weird Al” Yankovic, whose chart-topping Mandatory Fun recently followed Beyoncé’s lead by arriving largely in video form, has been open about completing his record contract, details of the former Destiny’s Child singer’s agreement with Columbia are unclear. A Forbes staffer wrote last year that Beyoncé is “rumored” to have a deal that works more like a joint venture than a basic royalty rate. Though that’s unconfirmed, Beyoncé would surely earn more from licensing a version of “Crazy in Love” recorded under a partnership-style arrangement than if she had given 50 Shades of Grey a version done under a traditional setup.
The way the trailer was released also follows the pattern Beyoncé set with last year’s self-titled “visual album.” Today aside, she shared the video directly through her own social media channels, and she even teased it on Instagram several days earlier. Beyoncé, which she announced via Instagram with no advance warning last December, sold 365,000 copies on its first day and spawned more than a million tweets in just 12 hours, according to a separate report by Times‘ Ben Sisario.
Of course, the opportunities to earn green from Grey go well beyond this trailer. E.L. James’ book trilogy has sold more than 90 million copies. As Rolling Stone points out, Beyoncé will probably have music on the film’s soundtrack. If the compilation sees even a sliver of the success that the books have had, that will be a massive commercial success. Her self-titled album’s “Haunted,” for what it’s worth, soundtracked footage from the film that debuted in March at CinemaCon.
In news that’s less likely to result in a blockbuster but should appeal to a whole other subclass of festishists, Beyoncé has also announced a double-vinyl edition of last year’s full-length. The package, previously available on wax only as a bootleg, will come with a 28-page booklet, a digital download card and a DVD with 17 music videos. Despite a $39.99 price tag on Amazon, whips and chains aren’t included.