FRANKLIN SQUARE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Swarms of moviegoers flocked to theaters to see the much-heralded “50 Shades of Grey” Friday, as the movie opened to uneven reviews.

But as CBS2’s Jennifer McLogan reported, controversy has been boiling over about the sexual theme of the movie. But excitement hit a fever pitch anyway – although some in the crowd were not too enthusiastic about admitting they were there to see the movie.

READ MORE: Protesters Attempt To Storm Entrance Of Barclays Center Over Nets' Refusal To Allow Kyrie Irving To Play Due To NYC Vaccine Mandate

Screaming fans lined the red carpet hoping to catch a glimpse of actors Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson, who attended the world premiere of the film Wednesday in Berlin. The highly-anticipated film adaptation of the best-selling book by E L James was screened as part of the Berlin Film Festival.

Johnson portrays innocent college student, Anastasia, who is both dazzled and intimidated after meeting billionaire Christian Grey, played by Dornan. Their attraction comes with strings attached and more.

Dornan said the themes of bondage and control are part of the story, but not all.

“At the center of it is sex, and it’s a specific type of sex for the most part, but I do think at the very core of it it’s a love story,” Dornan said.

The characters explore their own limits, “really trying to figure out, at what lengths do you go to for a person that you love?” Johnson said.

The most intimate scenes were shot last, with Ana exploring Christian’s secret world, including the power to decide how far is too far.

“I really wanted it to feel like I had empowered her by the end,” director Sam Taylor-Johnson said.

On Long Island Friday, suburbanites were scrambling to see it all for themselves. Lines were forming at barely 10 a.m. for advance sales pickup.

The movie trailer could be heard humming amid popcorn and giggles.

“My husband asked me if I was coming back with some new moves,” one woman said, “and I said, ‘Of course!’”

“It’s a girl thing to do,” another said.

Who was turning out for the screening? Singles of all ages, couples and groups were in the crowd, and many ran from CBS2’s cameras – wanting no part of publicity.

READ MORE: NYPD: Knife Fight Spills Into Midtown Pizzeria, 2 Taken Into Custody

Other demurred.

“I said, ‘Can you take me this morning?’ He said yes,” said Pamela Blank.

When her husband, Marty Blank, was asked if he was excited to see the movie, he replied: “We’re married 45 years. Nothing excites me.”

Bernice Pere wanted to remain incognito, but still stopped to talk to McLogan.

“I’m kind of hiding out, but I’m looking forward to it — read all three books, and I’m excited to see it,” Pere said. “But hope this doesn’t go on. I wouldn’t want anybody to know.”

Carl Bernadotte went to see “50 Shades” in the spirit of Valentine’s Day.

“I think it is mostly women, but you know, it’s Valentine’s Day weekend, so it’s an opportunity to show love to our wives,” he said.

The film is already getting a big thumbs-down from religious and other groups who say it is degrading to women and endorses sexual violence.

One social media campaign is encouraging would-be movie-goers to donate their ticket and popcorn money to women’s shelters, while Roman Catholic bishops are using it as what-not-to-do guide to marriage.

Even as screenings sold, critics, including the American Family Association and National Center on Sexual Exploitation, have been pushing for boycotts. They said they were compelled to speak out because of the attention the movie, with its scenes of bondage and sadomasochism, has attracted.

“Our hope is that as people walk away from the movie, they start a conversation about what a healthy relationship looks like — including sexual relationships,” said Dr. Jeffrey Reynolds of the Family and Children’s Association.

Protesters Friday said they were not trying to prevent people from seeing the movie, but instead delivering a message that it’s dangerous to romanticize or celebrate unwanted control, manipulation, or stalking, as forms of love.

When CBS2 polled those leaving the film, some complimented it as tasteful and erotic. Others mocked it as unintentionally funny and disappointing.

MORE NEWS: With Less Than A Week Before NYC's Deadline, Municipal Workers Hold Anti-Vaccine Mandate Rally On Staten Island

(TM and © Copyright 2015 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2015 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)