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Fifty Shades fever strikes north as cinema-goers are whipped into a frenzy

COUNTY Down's own leading man Jamie Dornan has been credited with the intense local interest in the film of E L James's erotic novel, which is in cinemas from Friday.

Sixty-five percent of the 14,800 tickets pre-sold by Omniplex Cinemas in Ireland were snapped up north of the border.

And Lisburn has emerged as the unlikely Fifty Shades of Grey capital of Northern Ireland, with 3,000 tickets sold in that city alone.

A spokesman for Omniplex said the phenomena "reminds us of Sex and The City crossed with The Passion of the Christ because of all the complaints we're getting".

The group was also boasting that "you won't see Christian Grey bigger anywhere in Ireland", with the film playing on their massive Omniplex Max screens in Antrim, Newry and Derry.

Last night six shows in Belfast and Coleraine, Co Derry were sold out at Movie House cinemas, although the screens had been cleared to ensure there were still plenty of chances to see the steamy show.

Its Belfast, cinemas have increased screenings from the usual eight to a staggering 22 by dropping less popular films from its listings for the night.

A Movie House spokeswoman said nearly 50 per cent of its screens will show 50 Shades this weekend.

She said there have been more advanced bookings for the film than Sex and The City - one of the most popular films shown.

Group bookings of cinemas for charity and other events will turn this Friday 13th into a lucky day for owners who can expect a rise in takings.

The bonk-buster is expected to dominate the weekend box office, fuelled by the excitement of lovers of the racy book at the prospect of the characters coming to life on the big screen.

Fifty Shades of Grey has now broken records for both movie ticket and book sales.

And yesterday The Daily Telegraph was reporting that B&Q staff "will be provided with copies of erotic novel Fifty Shades of Grey to prepare for an increased demand for ropes and duct tape after the film's release".

The note, which is reported to have been posted on the DIY company's internal internet portal, says that staff should expect an increase in the number of queries relating to "rope, cable ties and masking or duct tape".

The film, starring Holywood-born Dornan and Dakota Johnson, follows the relationship between graduate Anastasia Steele and

successful businessman Christian Grey, who introduces her to the world of S&M and role play.

One scene involves the couple going to a hardware shop to buy ropes and ties.

The message refers to a surge in interest in "certain products" following the release of the book in 2012.

Staff have been warned to be prepared for "potentially sensitive customer enquiries" and to not let stock of the items run low, according to the memo.

A spokesperson for the company said: "B&Q remains committed to serving our customers in all their DIY needs and we strive to prepare our staff for any enquiry. Customer satisfaction is always our number one priority."

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