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Sunday, June 30, 2013

No Narnia Films Till 2018

 By Tom King
One gets really tired of Hollywood studio heads that think they're smarter than the guy that wrote the books we all love.  I guess Chronicles of Narnia producer and C.S. Lewis' step-son Douglas Gresham is about as frustrated as I am.  Walden Media let their contract for the Narnia movies lapse and Douglas is apparently prepared to sit on the movie rights till the 7 year exclusive rights provision of the contract runs out in 2018.  If he does, he can make a new Narnia fill before that, but it cannot be released until 2018. 

Needless to say, I'm not happy about that. At my age 5 years is too long to wait.  And there's talk of rebooting the series.  It sounds to me like Gresham wants to put something back in the series that he feels Disney, Fox and Walden took out - the Christianity.  He apparently has had to fight the forces of political correctness tooth and nail through all three pictures. 

Of course, you can't get rid of it.  Narnia is a Christian allegory to its bones.  Disney seemed embarrassed by that and tried to make it a children's fantasy.  Unfortunately the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe was entirely about Christ and salvation.  They tried to sand off some of the Christian edges off the film, but it didn't work.  Everybody knew and the film grossed 3/4 billion dollars worldwide.

They did a better job of burying the lead in Prince Caspian and 'only' made 419 million for their troubles.  Disney gave it up as a bad job and Fox produced the third film, Voyage of the Dawn Treader which "only" made 415 million dollars making it the 24th highest grossing film series of all time - this despite Liam Neeson's public declaration that "Aslan is not Jesus Christ."  This is not a healthy marketing tactic when you're making a film that by its nature is designed to appeal to Christians (who ponied up some 2 billion dollars in gross earnings on worldwide ticket sales, DVDs, movie rentals and television) against a 30 million dollar original investment).  Christian films have very long earnings lives. We still watch "The Robe" and "The Ten Commandments" regularly.  A complete Chronicles of Narnia set would earn money for decades in exactly the same way Walt Disney used to recycle his animated features.

C.S. Lewis "Chronicles of Narnia" author.
Somebody's being terribly short-sighted.  The books are excellently told stories that appeal to a much-neglected segment of the population that would like to watch movies they don't have to feel guilty about. Peter Jackson's success is, in large part, due to the Christian patronage of J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Ring trilogy.  He is repeating his success with the Hobbit.  Tolkien buried his Christian philosophy deep in the bones of the Middle Earth Sagas and Christians watch the movies and buy the DVDs as a result.

Too many traditional Hollywood producers are repulsed by an overtly Christian message. I think that's what's behind all the trouble with the Narnia series. Hey, if that's what's going on, it's their loss. Perhaps Peter Jackson will take on Narnia when he's done with the Hobbit. It's not like he's made ALL the money in the world yet.

And I bet I could come up with an Actual Christian to give voice to Aslan instead of someone like Neeson who's planning to convert to Islam sometime soon.  In fact, in an interview Neeson said, "Aslan symbolizes a Christ-like figure but he also symbolizes for me Mohammed, Buddha and all the great spiritual leaders and prophets over the centuries." 

Douglas Gresham, often called the "policeman of Narnia" shot back saying "It (The Narnia stories) is nothing to do with Islam......Lewis would have simply denied that. He wrote that the “whole Narnian story is about Christ”. Lewis could not have been clearer."

I say stick to your guns Douglas.  Your Dad would be proud of you.  I know I am.

What we need is someone with a lot of money to make the rest of the films by 2018 and then release them one right after another.  Perhaps Walden Media will get religion and do the rest of them right. I'm willing to bet they haven't run up against someone who will turn down as much money as they're offering for the sake of his conscience.


I'm willing to wait.  It'll give me an incentive to lose weight and get my blood pressure down some more so I can live long enough to see them.

by Tom King (c) 2013


1 comment:

Tom King said...

Good News! Douglas Gresham has negotiated to allow a new production company to take over and the next Narnia film will be The Silver Chair and it is planned for release in a couple of years instead of having to wait till the end of the decade. Hallelujah to that!