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Monday, January 12, 2009

Disney Bails on Narnia - An Open Letter to the Board

An Open Letter:

John E. Pepper Jr.
Chairman of the Board
Walt Disney Company
3271 Sienna Dr.
Cincinnati, OH 45251-1080

Dear Mr. Pepper:

My wife and I were disappointed today to discover that the Walt Disney Company had decided to cancel its support of the third installment in the Chronicles of Narnia Series. As a parent whose 28 year old daughter still collects good children's movies and is devoted to the Narnia series and as a grandparent who is preparing for more grandchildren, I want to express my profound disappointment in the Disney Company.

Just last night, my wife and I were talking about all the movies we saw in 2008 and there was only one we thoroughly enjoyed and that was Prince Caspian. Caspian is the darkest book in the series and Walden did such a good job with it that we were really looking forward to "Voyage of the Dawn Treader" which is arguably the best of the series after "Witch".

I have to wonder whether Disney Company is really trying to completely alienate its entire audience of Christians with its company decisions. I mean you're doing another sequel to "Witch Mountain" for crying out loud - possibly the lamest Disney live action films of all time. The Narnia series has far more potential, not only at the box office, but also with toys, games, clothing and such merchandising. The Narnia series are the most beloved children's books in Christendom.

I know the economy is in trouble, but what better time for Disney to produce something hopeful and uplifting than when everyone else in the movie industry seems hell-bent on dragging us all down into the dumps with them. The one movie I saw all year that really gave me hope was Caspian. Now, it looks as though Dawn Treader may not be done at all. Pretty soon the only thing left for kids out there will be clones of Harry Potter and tiresomely cute animated animals, dinosaurs and robots whining about global warming. In the Narnia series, children were not patted on the head and told they were perfect just the way they are. They are challenged to choose to do what is right. In the Narnia books they are taught there is a cause worth serving that is greater than themselves. Generations of children will watch the Narnia films, just as generations have read the Narnia books. If Disney can't make money with something with that kind of legs to it in their vaults, then Walt really did die too soon!

If Narnia is abandoned by Disney, I suspect a lot of folks like me will in turn, abandon Disney as a source of entertainment for our children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Uncle Walt always drove the bookkeepers mad with his insistence on quality, but he was right. Films that seemed to lose money the first time they appeared in theaters, Walt came back and sold them time and time again to the next generation of kids. You can loop the Narnia series for the next 100 years the same way, selling them again and again and again to each new generation - BUT ONLY IF YOU HAVE THE WHOLE SERIES!!!! I hope there's someone left at Disney with Walt's kind of imagination. I hope you'll seriously reconsider this decision. If I were Walden, I'd buy the rights to the first two installments and make the rest of the films. A film company could make money for the next two centuries off the Narnia series if they have the entire series. Disney dropping out already screws up hope of being able to buy a boxed set of all the installments of the films.

I promise you, there will be a backlash because of this incredibly short-sighted decision. Frankly, the Christian community did not entirely trust Disney with the Narnia series in the first place. A lot of us felt more kindly toward Disney because Narnia was treated with such respect. You had restored a lot of our good will because of that respect. Please reconsider your decision.


Tom & Sheila King

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