(JAN 9, 2009) Ted Baehr of MOVIEGUIDE® assesses the recent Disney-Narnia split.
By Dr. Ted Baehr, Publisher of MOVIEGUIDE®
Special to ASSIST News Service
HOLLYWOOD, CA (ANS) — The big news in the world of faith-based literature and film is that Walt Disney Company has dropped the third Chronicles of Narnia movie, “Dawn Treader,” Even though the Associated Press sent out a release making this look like a faith-based issue, the fact of the matter is that this was an economic decision.
The Associated Press took my words out of context in an interview on this subject, to make Disney’s decision look like one of the parties in Hollywood was concerned about the movie’s faith content. The fact is neither Disney nor Walden has hesitated from including faith in their movies. The book Dawn Treader has the least amount of time with Aslan, who is the Jesus figure in the series by acclaimed Christian author C.S. Lewis. It is much more logical that the economics of the movie did not make sense than that there was a concern over the Christian content of the book.
“Prince Caspian,” the most recent “Chronicles of Narnia” movie, exceeded its budget and ultimately cost to produce $200 million. A movie has to produce two and a half times its costs to break even, which means it would have to earn $500 million at the box office. In fact, it only made $418.8 worldwide. In terms of videos and DVDs, the markup is much higher, so “Prince Caspian” would have to make much more money to make its money back in the DVD market. Neither Walden nor Disney could have been happy about this economic straitjacket.
Although “Voyage of the Dawn Treader” is one of the most beloved books in the series, it is more of a travelogue than a well-structured movie. Most books turned into movies bomb at the box office. Movies require very strong, carefully plotted storylines. Most books meander. Some of the biggest, best-selling books, such as Bonfire of the Vanities or Name of the Rose, bomb at the box office. Of all the Narnia books, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is the most cinematic. So, from an economic point of view, paying more for the “Dawn Treader” movie does not make sense.
It is true that the faith community is gigantic. And, they responded to “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” movie in a big way. However, the remaining Narnia books do not have the same degree of enthusiastic fans. And, the faith community includes everyone from Catholics to fundamentalists. Movies that appeal to them must appeal to them across the board, and must be marketed properly.
With “Prince Caspian,” the faith community probably was not prepared for the re-plotting of the storyline. To make the movie work, the filmmakers had to change it from flashbacks and meandering walks up and down the gorge to a straight-ahead, exciting plot. The filmmakers should have made a greater effort to tell the faith community why the plot was adjusted to make it more of a movie. That said, Andrew Adamson, among others, did tell that to Movieguide® in our television interviews. The faith community could have taken more time to find out by looking at sites such as Movieguide® that give a clear indication of what to expect when they went to the movie.
A movie cannot succeed with just one part of the faith community supporting it. It needs to get all of the faith community who go to church on a regular basis. These people want movies they could trust. The studios can reach those people through review services they can trust, and the most trustworthy is Movieguide®.
Note: Dr. Ted Baehr is also the author of “The Media-Wise Family” and co-author of “Frodo & Harry: Understanding Visual Media and Its Impact on Our Lives.” Movieguide® is dedicated to redeeming the values of the entertainment industry according to biblical principles.
(DEC 24, 2008) A Yahoo! News article by Josh Grossberg detailing the story of Disney splitting from Walden Media for future Chronicles of Narnia flicks….which leaves an uncertain future for “Voyage of the Dawn Treader”. The full article can be read HERE.
(EXCERPT) The lion, the witch and the wardrobe crew is getting the boot from the Magic Kingdom.
Proving that not even Mickey is immune to the downturn, Disney has decided against coproducing and distributing the third film in the Chronicles of Narnia series, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. And that means Walden Media, the production company behind the C.S. Lewis adaptations, will have to find a new partner for the big-screen franchise to continue.
According to the Hollywood Reporter, Disney’s departure is based on “budgetary and logistical reasons,” though reps for both declined to comment beyond that.
ProdCo: Walt Disney & Walden Media
Title: Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian
ProdCo: Walt Disney & Walden Media
Title: Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe