#ThrowbackThursday: “Secretary,” 2002

Maggie Gyllenhaal in 'Secretary' (Film4)

Maggie Gyllenhaal in ‘Secretary’ (Film4)

This week, we’re examining different aspects of “Fifty Shades of Grey,” in preparation for the upcoming movie. 

E. Edward Grey: Look, we can’t do this 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Lee: Why not?

– “Secretary,” 2002

A forerunner of the “Fifty Shades of Grey” movie, “Secretary” was first shown at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2002 before released to a wider US audience in September that same year.

Recently released from an institution after a bout of self-harm, the socially awkward Lee Holloway (Maggie Gyllenhaal) takes a secretary job with eccentric lawyer E. Edward Grey (James Spader). Her submissive personality entices Grey, and the two enter into a D/s relationship. Holloway gains confidence and falls in love with her boss, while Grey struggles with his own feelings towards her and his urges.

“Secretary” was the most recent film to showcase BDSM, specifically highlighting D/s relationships, and does so fairly sympathetically. It didn’t judge, pathologize or shame its characters, but showed them growing as a result of their preferences.

According to Box Office Mojo, the film made $182K+ its opening weekend, ranking it #31 of that weekend. It was released in 11 theaters, and pulled in $16K+ on average. It ranked #70 of yearly R-rated movies of 2002, and #183 of yearly opening weekends in 2002.

Domestically, “Secretary” made $4M+, grossing 43%+ of its budget. It did better in the foreign market, making $5.2M+ for a gross of 56%. The film took in $9.3M worldwide.

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