Clive Staples Lewis was a celebrated Anglo-Irish novelist, academic, medievalist, literary critic, lay theologian and Christian apologist whose impact and influence lives on.

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Not Coming Soon: Always Disney Never Christmas

December 25th, 2008 | Skip to comments

Disney Ditches Dawn Treader
The news out of Hollywood is that Disney, fearful that the Narnian franchise would fade fast in an inevitably overtapped market for fantasy films, has opted out of the financing partnership with Walden Media. Reports indicate that Walden intends to go ahead with the Voyage of the “Dawn Treader” in search of another partner. The movie has been in pre-production with Michael Apted as director, and was slated for a May 2010 release. Speculation is that Walden may link the Narnian series with Fox, which partners with Walden in the Fox Walden enterprise. More details in these news stories:

  • Cinematical
  • Hollywood Reporter

  • Why so serious?

    According to reports, Prince Caspian was regarded as a box office disappointment for Disney, since The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe made $292 million in North America and $453 million internationally in 2005-06. By contrast, “Prince Caspian” brought in $141 million in North America and another $278 internationally, a drop in revenue of 45%. (Prince Caspian has just been released on DVD and Blu-Ray for the Christmas season, and will no doubt bring in some extraordinary revenue beyond box office when all is totaled.)

    For a majority of movies, this would be plenty of net revenue to justify continuing the series indefinitely. (I mean, how many Saw, Freddie, Jason, or Alien(s) movies have there been with less provocation?) Why, then, the profound difference in audience reception and continuing ardor for this episode in the Narniad?

    I won’t repeat my intense interrogation of the movie itself here, but let’s focus on what makes for happy, repeat moviegoers of literary classics and how they become enthusiastic evangelists to others? Here’s my list of components to be reckoned with:

  • Enough respectful fidelity to the original literary vision to captivate and fulfill without distraction.
  • Willingness to create new vistas, landscapes, and, as necessary, landmarks in CGI, without surrendering authenticity.
  • Principled rejection of derivative cinematography, setting, characterization, perceived contemporary audience “requirements” (e.g., a teenage love triangle).
  • Refusal to alienate primary audience through arbitrary plot subtractions or introduction of inorganic themes, characters, denouement.
  • In my view, Prince Caspian falls short on all four points, and makes the first Disney-Walden collaboration, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, seem that much more accomplished, though at first blush, I had some disappointments. Those seem minor now compared to the faux pas of this production. And that helps perhaps explain some proportion of the gap between the original movie receipts and those of this “sequel.”

    If one feels patronized by the creators of a work that has its own built-in success machine (church folk of all communions, fantasy enthusiasts, dedicated Narnians and Lewis aficionados), one will not be as inclined to spread the good news. Or want to take others again and again. Or buy it for Christmas and Birthdays.

    Reports that producers and financiers thought they had “improved” upon Lewis’s story betrays how little they seem to know about the Narnian worldview or Lewis’s imagination—and, perhaps as importantly, how little they knew the heart of the audiences awaiting the next release. I can tell you one thing: the audience wasn’t wishing for a Princess Bride–Harry–Golden Compass–Twilight mashup.

    One can only hope that Aslan is still on the move. To a new studio.

    1 Comment

    1. […] În urmă cu câteva luni, Bruce L. Edwards anunţa pe C.S. Lewis & Inklings Resource Blog că Disney a renunţat la producţia celui de-al treilea film din serie (Călătorie pe mare cu Zori-de-zi) – e vorba de […]

      Pingback by Călătorie pe mare cu Zori-de-zi. FILMUL « Cu drezina — 11 May 2009 @ 9:56 PM

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