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Fifty Shades Freed


Fans who packed an Atlanta theater Thursday night for an early screening of “Black Panther” got more action than they bargained for.The theater accidentally played the erotic romance movie “Fifty Shades Freed” during a sold-out show at Atlanta’s Regal Atlantic Station. The mix up lasted nearly 10 minutes.Some in the theater took to Twitter to express anger and dismay, while others saw humor in the fact that the two movies are intended for vastly different audiences. At least one fan said he suspected something was wrong when the trailers before the movie included one for “Mama Mia 2.”

“I never laughed so hard. I’m glad I came to the black theater,” tweeted by audience member who goes by the name Chef Steve. “It was insane.”So they started to play 50 shades instead of ‘Black Panther’ in my theater today,” tweeted audience member Slim Hardaway Jr. “I’m 5 months removed from ACL surgery and I sprinted through the theater to get that turned off so damn fast.”

He added in a later tweet that “Regal almost had a riot on their hands.”

Two videos were tweeted by Chef Steve from the theater and they showed the crowd laughing and booing at a “Fifty Shades” wedding scene. The video had been viewed 135,000 times on Friday.

“The two films couldn’t be any more different,” wrote in a story on the mix up. “While (“Fifty Shades Freed”) is the final chapter in the romantic/erotic trilogy inspired by a series of novels, (“Black Panther”) is a superhero film from Marvel Studios that follows T’Challa as he formally becomes the king and protector of Wakanda…Fortunately, people at the theater didn’t take the mistake too seriously.”There’s plenty to see in theaters at the moment, like Black Panther, which *finally* made its much-anticipated debut, and Fifty Shades Freed, which was released ahead of Valentine’s Day. While both are raking in some pretty big bucks, they’re obviously very different. So when a theater accidentally played Fifty Shades Freed and not Black Panther, it’s pretty safe to say that a lot of the audience — if not ALL of the audience — was pretty shocked.

Several audience members took to Twitter as soon as the theater started playing the third and final installment of the Fifty Shades franchise when everyone was expecting to see a badass superhero movie. And it makes sense that people at the Atlantic Station theater in Atlanta would be pretty freaking shocked if they had just settled down to watch some Chadwick Boseman and Lupita Nyong’o and got Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson instead.

I don’t begrudge the Fifty Shades of Grey franchise its partnership with Audi. Truly I don’t. I enjoy watching conventionally attractive actors drive sleek, expensive, luxury cars as much as the next person, whether they’re racing through the countryside or getting it on in the R8’s compact but surprisingly roomy interior. That kind of product placement is a natural fit for the Fifty Shades franchise, since E.L. James’ novels are already packed with mentions of the German luxury automobiles to begin with. Even the trailer for Fifty Shades Freed made no attempt to disguise what it really is, a two-hour car commercial with intermittent boning, so you can’t accuse the messaging of being anything even close to subliminal.

No, I definitely don’t mind that Christian Grey’s garage is full of more Audis than a single person could possibly find use for or that he gives Ana an A3 in the first movie, just because he can. That’s all fine. But what in the name of Christian’s sex jeans do the filmmakers—or E.L. James, for that matter—have against the humble Dodge Durango?The Dodge Durango is the vehicle of choice for Fifty Shades Freed’s villain. How do I know this? Because not only do we see this Dodge at various points in the film, other characters also helpfully remind us, every time it’s onscreen, that the car we are looking at is a Dodge Durango. This begins when Ana and Christian realize they’re being tailed on the way back from their newly purchased home. The car in pursuit is a blue Dodge with fake plates, we’re informed, and while we don’t know exactly why they’re following our horny heroes, it’s surely for some depraved, unknown purpose. Who is the driver? What are their intentions? We can’t even tell if there’s a man or a woman behind the wheel, and Christian and Ana have accumulated so many enemies at this point that they can’t figure out which of them wishes them harm. The only thing we do know: They drive a Dodge Durango. Nefarious!

Even once we put a face to this villain—it’s Ana’s ex-boss and Christian’s old foster care buddy, Jack Hyde—the Dodge still plays a critical role in the film. “There’s a blue Dodge parked in the alley with tinted windows,” Hyde tells Ana menacingly over the phone, ordering her to get inside. No! Not the Dodge! Don’t you know Ana’s contract stipulates that she can only ride in Audis?! As the final showdown takes place and bullets fly, the Durango is still there, dutifully waiting in the background.

Why is there so much emphasis placed on this vehicle’s make and model? Whereas Audi gets a shoutout in Fifty Shades Freed’s credits for providing their cars in the film, a spokesperson for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, which owns Dodge, tells me that the company was not involved in Fifty Shades Freed’s production, which means that the filmmakers just decided that it was essential that the villains drive a Dodge, like in James’ book. Why was that detail so important?

Maybe the answer is that the Dodge is meant to be symbolic. After all, the Audi R8 is Christian Grey’s car of choice, which is fitting, given his immense wealth, sleek frame, and aloof “personality,” a word I use here very loosely. (Also, it’s gray, and that’s his name!) Meanwhile, we come to understand that Hyde is kind of an anti-Christian Grey: Both men grew up in the Detroit foster care system, but Christian had the good luck to be adopted by a wealthy family while Hyde suffered the unfortunate fate of aging out of the system and … eventually getting a scholarship to Princeton and a respectable job at a publishing company? I guess the point is that he struggled to get where he was, and he has a real chip on his shoulder about it.

So what does it say about Hyde that he drives a Dodge Durango? Well, compared to an R8, which costs upward of $164,000, it’s downright scrappy. It’s also an SUV, which means it’s durable, and Hyde certainly thinks of himself as a survivor. Mostly, though, it just kind of seems like James and the filmmakers are car snobs. How else can you account for a movie where the heroes drive luxury vehicles while the bad guy is stuck driving around like a particularly edgy soccer mom?

That kind of snobbery would certainly explain this sick burn directed at another antagonist, earlier in the film: “You can go and climb into your shit-colored car and drive back to Seattle.” Damn, Ana. Not everyone has a fleet of Audis at their disposal.