Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Bad and embittering film news

Evidently conservatives and Christians who complain so loudly about the dearth of good movies to take their kids to failed to match wallet to mouth.

Disney has bailed on the Chronicles of Narnia series. It didn't make enough money, in their estimation. (This is a bit puzzling, though, given that Caspian was the tenth biggest worldwide box-office money-maker.)

The first two movies were, like all adaptations, imperfect. But they were lovely, good-faith efforts, and boasted some perfect key casting (notably Georgie Henley as Lucy). But big-talking culture-critics didn't go to the theaters, and Disney isn't a charity, so the series may be scuttled for good.

Bitter? Wait, it gets worse. 'Way worse.

No Dawn Treader - but filmgoers will be able to see Gilligan's Island on the big screen.

I'll retire to Bedlam.

Now to hope that someone else picks up the "franchise," and that filmgoers make Disney look like idiots by putting their money where their mouth is.


Ricky Rickard said...

There are really no words to describe:

a) How upset I am about Disney not picking up Chronicles of Narnia. I enjoyed the first, and am looking forward to the second. I hope, like you, someone picks it up and makes a ton of money from it.

b) How upset I am that a show like Gilligan's Island is being re-made into movie. It goes back to what we talked about a couple of days ago that Hollywood really has no new or daring ideas. Anybody want to bet that one of the characters is an homosexual relationship in this "adaptation"? Anybody want to bet that global warming is blamed for the storm that strands them on the island? Geesh.

c. How much news like this makes me look forward to movies like Fireproof that are coming down the pipeline. I remain hopeful that movies like this will continue to be made, and well received.


Kevin Rhyne said...

Surely someone will pick up Dawn Treader. $400+ million is nothing to sneeze at. Disney doubled (if not more) their money.

Call me a conspiracy theorist, but I have to wonder if they were having thoughts about dealing with the material in a way that was not overtly Christian and seeing no way to accomplish that without an uproar (heavy on the roar). I’m particularly thinking of the scene with Eustice as a dragon.

Michael said...

I don't know, I think the problem with P.C. was that it wasn't really that faithful (to source material). The first movie at least was really well done and interesting. This movie was further down the path of LotR's lite.

Yes good casting, yes good special effects - but I feel they lost a lot of Lewis' intent in the stories. Notably teaching and making it MORE violent.

If you haven't heard the radio plays by Focus on the Family - they are simply stunning. Finding those, I really don't care what happens with the movies.

*The above is merely my opinion :D

DJP said...

It doesn't make much sense, Kevin — but I had the same thought. The third novel has a very specifically Christian ending in particular. I feared how they might bobble it. When I read this, I did wonder whether Disney just said "What? That's in it? And we can't, like, you know, have him turn into Mickey Mouse at the end, or go gay, or something? Forget it!"

Dan said...

I'm Bitter!

Obviously, Disney figured there will be a whole lot more "skin" to show with Ginger so it was a "no-brainer" for them! I wonder how many sexual innuendos and love triangles Disney will be able to squeeze into 80 min.

Doug Hibbard said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Doug Hibbard said...

I just realized that my first comment was a long string of disconnected sentences. So, here we go again:

No, they don't have original ideas. Creativity requires, eventually, an acknowledgment of the truly creative One who made everything. Can't have that.

No, they don't want to present any remotely Christian message.

No, Christians still won't pour money into films produced by companies that stand against things we stand for. Even good films. If this means Hollywood quits even trying, oh well. Are we really sure that, as Christians, we need movies in theaters anyway?

No, I didn't see either Chronicles of Narnia in the theater. I do have the first DVD, plan to get the second.

JTW said...

Ouch! This does disappoint me.

I am an infrequent moviegoer, and the purchase of a DVD is truly a rare event on par with a lunar eclipse.

But I have enjoyed the Narnia series and made it a point to purchase the Caspian DVD early because of the rumors about Disney becoming wobbly on the franchise.

I do hope Walden finds another partner.

Try to find a movie today with a classic protagonist. No what we find are foul mouthed losers. Even in our art we rarely aspire to anything honorable. Sad state of the culture.

Becky, a slave of Christ said...

I had heard this. I was so looking forward to Dawn Treader done up with the latest special effect capabilities.

LeeC said...

That stinks.

Although there was a certain "something" lacking in the movies I loved them none the less.

I wish they could just copy the BBC version with the Walden versions production values.

Michael said...

Am I the only one that though "Lost" by abc (Disney) was just Giligans Island for this generation?

Think about... ship wreck/island/ensemble cast.

actually remaking this would probably fail misrably. Duke's of Hazaard anyone?

Libbie said...

Despite vocally prefering other versions, I'm gutted.

Julie said...

No Dawn Treader???

That just stinks!

(Disney DOUBLED their money? And that wasn't a good investment? Am I missing something?)


Michael said...

@ Julie, the problem wasn't doubling their investment, as much as their return on investment. Lion cost a lot less than P.C, but Lion brought in a lot more than did P.C.

So it only makes sense - based on that trend that Dawn Treader will cost more than P.C. and might do worse. Which would then put it at break-even or a loss.

I can't blame Disney - I'd drop it too with the numbers.

JTW said...

As far as the downward box office between the two movies, I think they made a mistake by pushing back the release date for Caspian.

They were going to release it in the winter of 07, but decided that they did not want to compete against The Golden Compass.

Thankfully, Compass really tanked but Caspian went up against the summer releases. Which, if I remember correctly, included Iron Man.

Nevertheless, I don't by the money argument. Hollywood likes money, but they are compelled by their ideology. Years ago Michael Medved wrote Hollywood V. America where he went through the numbers. But I think its obvious what Hollywood does.

What's on their current agenda, a slew of movies about heroic homosexuals. Will they be highly profitable? If history is any indication, not very. But they will roll out one after the other.

Susan said...

1. Georgie Henley was so adorable in "Lion". She could also play a good young Jane Eyre (cf. BBC's newer production of Jane Eyre--although I didn't quite like the production itself).

2. Didn't like "Caspian" as much as "Lion" in terms of movies. I mean, they just HAD to make the Pevensie boys fight in the subway station, the White Witch reappear and Susan kiss Caspian--so very unnecessary. If Disney had stuck closer to Lewis's book, perhaps it would have done even better at the box office! My mother, though, really enjoyed both movies--especially Aslan's "performance"! (I had to remind her that Aslan is only animation!)

3. No "Dawn Treader"? That's sad, considering that I expected Disney to only make four movies out of the seven books (definitely not including "The Horse and His Boy"), but now even that's not going to happen anymore. I hope someone out there will pick "Treader" up and make a much better movie than Disney did with "Caspian".

In the meantime, I'll go back and read the original Chronicles of Narnia!

UinenMaia said...

If the reaction in my area was any indication, it is a wonder that Disney actually doubled its money. We went in to the theater expecting Lion-esque changes (not too much difference from the beloved story and mostly necessary). We left utterly disappointed in a movie that should have been called "Not Prince Caspian".

The children’s characters were not at all a match to the book and showed a failure to grasp the change that being an Aslan-blessed ruler wrought in them. Peter, particularly, was a whining git. They basically eliminated Aslan. They added blood, gore, politics, and the witch. And they turned the graceful, strong, and good trees into things that resembled Ents Gone Wild - and not in a good way.

I had plans to take my entire set of English classes to see it. I scrapped those after I saw how the book was gutted. I'm not the only teacher who did so, either.

We went repeatedly in the theater to see Lion. Most of us agreed that we would still go to see D.T. and were hoping for a better/truer movie with that one.

I was curious about how they would deal with the overt transformation of Eustace in that book, though. For all that Lion is a pretty direct parallel, D.T is more spiritual in some ways. I suspect that Disney has chosen to dodge that bullet, just like it chose to get rid of the implications of Aslan leading the children to the How by cutting him out of P.C.

UinenMaia said...

Sorry Dan - I know you liked P.C. Your defense of the changes in your review actually got me to stop hating the film and cut Walden some slack. But some changes were just too egregious to overlook. That is probably why it did worse than Lion.

On a spiritual note, in P.C. the movie, the character of Aslan was changed from an unseen yet loving and in control one to a helpless sideline-sitter, dependant on the humans to fix the mess. The change from the book was intentional according to an interview with the director.

It rather mirrors what Hollywood and people in general do to God. He goes from sovereign Lord to cosmic butler/cheerleader/doddering old fool. Perhaps they marginalized and weakened their most amazing “character“ so that they did not make people think too hard about the One after whom that character was patterned? That, also, might have had an impact on the financial bottom line.

DJP said...

No, those are fair criticisms. If you have a link to that interview, I'd be interested in it.

But this: " P.C. the movie, the character of Aslan was changed from an unseen yet loving and in control one to a helpless sideline-sitter, dependant on the humans to fix the mess."

What about when (Lucy?) says to Peter something like, "I think you're forgetting who it was who actually defeated the White Witch"?

LeeC said...

UinenMaia, your review sounds a lot like mine on Peter Jacksons "adaptation" of Middle Earth.

Carl said...

Something to consider -- How many movies based upon old TV shows did well or bombed at the box office? Here's a partial list (I don't count movies based on TV shows with most, if not all of the original TV cast - so Star Trek, Sex and the City, The X-Files & The Naked Gun aren't on the list):

Dukes Of Hazzard
The Avengers
Miami Vice
Starsky & Hutch
The Fugitive
The Untouchables
The Beverly Hillbillies
I Spy
Get Smart
The Addams Family
The Brady Bunch Movie
Mission Impossible
Scooby Doo
Charlie's Angels
Lost In Space
The Wild Wild West
Car 54, Where Are You?
The A-Team
Dudley Do-Right
George Of The Jungle
Fat Albert
The Flintstones
The Honeymooners
Inspector Gadget
McHale's Navy
The Mod Squad
My Favorite Martian
The Little Rascals
Richie Rich
Rocky and Bullwinkle
The Saint
Sergeant Bilko

There are more, but how many of those titles brought back memories of bad movies you'd rather had forgotten?

Glad I could have been of assistance. :-)