Wairarapa audiences have fallen in love with Fifty Shades of Grey and its brooding romantic hero - but domestic violence-care agencies warn fans to "be critical" of what they read and watch.
The Fifty Shades phenomenon took the world by storm in 2011, when E L James' erotic trilogy - the story of mysterious billionaire Christian Grey and ingenue Anastasia Steele - hit the shelves.
The movie adaptation opened in theatres on Valentine's Day - attracting sell-out crowds at Masterton's Regent3.
The franchise has intrigued audiences with its storyline involving bondage and discipline, domination and submission, and sadomasochism, but has attracted criticism for depicting a violent relationship - outside the bedroom - under the guise of romance.
Critics have noted abusive behaviour from the male lead towards his young love interest: such as stalking, phone tapping, threats and manipulation, plying her with alcohol and coercive sex.
In Wairarapa, the film had been "popular" since its opening, said Regent3 owner Brent Goodwin. Its premiere attracted a "full house" of 160, with over 1100 tickets sold as at the end of February.
Mr Goodwin said the audience has been "predominantly female".
"At our first showing, we had 158 women and two men," he said. "It's certainly bringing in good business so far - I haven't heard any negative comments."
Wairarapa readers have also got into the books, Masterton Paper Plus winning an award for being one of the series' Top 10 sellers in the country.
Salesperson Kelly Hooper said the store sold 1800 copies across the series in 2012.
Excitement over the movie had kept sales "ticking over".
"We get all sorts of women looking for it - from their early 20s to well into their 80s," Ms Hooper said. "I sold it to one older lady who said, 'if you're not getting it at home, love, you may as well read about it.'
Ms Hooper said the book was not her "cup of tea."
Stopping Violence Services Wairarapa counsellor Benita Lawrence read the book and found the writing "boring" - but said the central relationship had a sinister tone. She urged movie-goers to watch the film with a "questioning mind".
"Christian Grey was controlling, a stalker and used various means to gain control over [Anastasia]," Ms Lawrence said. "The violence was written as if it were romantic and exciting, and it inferred he would never hurt Anastasia beyond her tolerance."
While fans of the book had insisted Anastasia could use a "safe word", Ms Lawrence wasn't so sure.
"I don't know if a man who drugs, stalks and controls a woman to get what he wants would have the integrity to stop if she asked," she said.
The franchise's romanticising and normalising of abuse sent "dangerous" messages to both genders.
"It confuses the boundaries of what's okay and what's not. It's particularly confusing for young men who are beginning the sexual journey, when they think so many women are excited by 'rough' or violent sex."
Wairarapa Women's Refuge manager Lyn Buckley said the abusive traits didn't always register with readers, because of Christian Grey's wealth and looks.
She said it was a perception that domestic abuse was confined to lower-socioeconomic families - with perpetrators of a higher social standing avoiding law enforcement.
"Monsters don't always look like monsters," she said. "If an abuser speaks well and look nice, they can fall under the police radar."
Times-Age readers took to Facebook to share their views on the film, with many saying they "absolutely loved it" and had seen it multiple times.
Others questioned the "deeply abusive relationship" depicted, with one reminded of a violent partner.
This was met with disdain from fans, who said the movie and books were harmless escapism.
"E L James was only writing about what other people are thinking. Get a grip," said one reader.
"The world is filled with such prudes," said another.