Friday, January 30, 2009

New Hope For The DufflePuds

I was very sad when I heard that Disney had dropped its role in producing the Chronicles of Narnia films. I had been waiting for "The Voyage of the Dawn Treader," the one book out of the series filled with wild, fantastic images made for the big screen.

That's not to say that I was overly enthused about the movies that Disney had produced. I think they went about producing and releasing them incorrectly, as does this writer/producer.

I think that there is an audience of Lewis fans who are outspoken Christians who would plop their money down to see a movie done artfully with state-of-the-art casting and production values, like The Passion of the Christ.

I was just happy to see someone - anyone - interpret the films and TRY to stay close to the unique storytelling, the fantastic world, and the truly memorable allegories present throughout the series.

Now the someone is Twentieth Century Fox. I hope they take their time, do it right..even it means reshuffling the deck of who is supplying the creative vision.


  1. i always assumed that disney had virtually no part in the narnia films - except for deep pockets, marketing, and distribution. the creative stuff i think was pretty much all handled by walden.

    i actually liked prince caspian more than lww. i enjoyed the ways it veered from the script to tell a better story. prince caspian is the 2nd weakest book in my opinion (after the last battle -- i mean, there's no battle!).

    the "audience of lewis fans" that you describe have already "plopped" their money down. frankly if the goal is to make a lot of money the allegory needs to be played down even further. would i love a faithful, literal adaptation with all the christian-ness intact? yes, but the relative size of that audience compared to the demographic "people-who-saw-transformers" is very small.

  2. Dan I don't think the numbers bear out your contention.

    The first movie, which was a much truer rendition of Lewis' book, was the 2nd highest grossing film of 2005, behind "Star Wars III" and ahead of "Harry Potter IV."

    It earned $745,011,272, and only 22% of that box office was earned in the opening weekend. That means that word of mouth for the movie was very good, and that people went to see it more than once.

    The second movie, which featured some grave miscasting, a love story that never occurred and some war sequences that weren't in the book, fared far worse. It was the 13th highest grossing film of 2008, behind "Mamma Mia" and just ahead of "Marley and Me."

    Worse still, almost 40% of "Prince Caspian's" gross came in its opening weekend. That meant word of mouth stunk and there were not as many repeat viewers.

    Christians didn't plunk their money down for the second film, which diverged from the book.

    I agree that Caspian was a weak one, but the core story was pretty fascinating and worthy of being retold. It wasn't.

    And there's money to be made in being true to the book. There's a huge marketing opportunity missed in diverging from the book.

    Most importantly, I know that Christians were all kind of observers on this project. I was in a concert when Dan Haseltine introduced the song he was going to sing as a song from "The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe"'s soundtrack - but he and the band weren't allowed to see the movie. They had to write the song sight unseen.

    Compare that to the tv/dvd players wheeled in front of churches everywhere years ago. When the DVD began, Mel Gibson came on to profess his faith and staunchly explain the importance of his film.

    The goal is to make a lot of doubt. And it can be done. The domestic gross of Transformers was a almost exactly $100,000,000 LESS than the domestic gross of LWW...and globally, almost $40,000,000 less.

  3. re: Caspian. lewis is at his worst when he falls into the old classicist vs. modernist preaching. i mean, susan and lucy dancing through narnia with aslan and the nyads "converting" the children? boring. he definitely grinds his axe through the rest of the series, esp. in the silver chair. a lot of the philosophical meandering is not important to the christian allegory that lies at the heart of narnia (and the 'space trilogy'). namely: the Creator wants a relationship with His Creation.

    "girls can fight" is another update i appreciated.

    a more literal telling would have been worse for this movie. maybe the direction adamson took it in was too extreme and there was some middle ground that went unexplored...

    lastly - you might be very excited about dawn treader, but i think a lot of that is unfilmable without looking totally cheesy. we'll see my friend... we'll see.



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