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Potter faces Narnia fantasy challenge
BBC News ^ | November 18, 2005 | Neil Smith

Posted on 11/18/2005 3:02:41 PM PST by DaveLoneRanger

The fourth Harry Potter film, The Goblet of Fire, is confidently expected to break box-office records when it opens in the UK on 18 November. Directed by Mike Newell of Four Weddings and a Funeral fame, it will be the fourth hit in a row for its young stars Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint.

All three have been signed up for the fifth film, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, due out in summer 2007.

By then, however, the series' status as Hollywood's pre-eminent fantasy franchise may be under threat from another blockbuster saga looming on the horizon - The Chronicles of Narnia, which is released in the UK on 8 December.

Mystical landscape

For three consecutive Christmases between 2001 and 2003, audiences flocked to see the three instalments in Peter Jackson's epic Lord of the Rings.

The first two of these, The Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers, opened in close proximity to the first two Potter titles, the Philosopher's Stone and the Chamber of Secrets.

The first Potter narrowly outperformed Fellowship at the US box office, but the situation was reversed the following year.

Their success proved there was a strong demand for epic adventure based on popular fantasy fiction.

And it is precisely that demographic that Walt Disney Pictures and its producing partner Walden Media hope to target with their $150m (£85m) version of CS Lewis's Narnia adventure, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.

Like the Lord of the Rings, the film is based on a 20th century literary classic and has been mostly shot in New Zealand, on soundstages previously used for Jackson's films.

But with six more Narnia books optioned, the nascent franchise has even more material to draw on than the JRR Tolkien-inspired trilogy.

As in JK Rowling's Potter books, the lead Narnia characters are children caught up in spectacular adventures involving witches, magic and outlandish creatures.

Where the Narnia series differs is that the children do not feature in every book, meaning any sequels would not be as reliant on specific child actors as the Potter films are.

Time has been a pervasive factor in the Potter series, with Radcliffe, Watson and Grint all ageing faster than their fictional counterparts.

One more outing is guaranteed, but it has been suggested that the series will need to be recast by the time the sixth book and the as-yet-unwritten seventh instalment are made into films.

That is not a concern for the Narnia series, whose real star is Narnia itself - a mystical landscape where animals can talk, mythical beasts are common and pools become portals to different worlds.

It is a complex setting that has more in common with Tolkien's Middle-Earth than JK Rowling's relatively insular Hogwarts.

And, like Middle-Earth, it comes with its own detailed history, geography, mythology and even cosmology.

Unknown quantity

It remains to be seen how much of this will feature in the first Narnia film, which is being pitched to audiences as a fast-paced, effects-based action adventure.

It is notable, too, that while Walden Media have optioned all the other Narnia books, a follow-up has yet to be announced.

Note also how the producers have opted for the most familiar of Lewis' series, rather than its chronological prequel, The Magician's Nephew.

It is a decision that reflects the fact that - outside of devoted readers of fantasy literature - The Chronicles of Narnia remain something of an unknown quantity.

"This is really the only Narnia book to make," says Chris Hewitt, associate editor of Empire magazine. "I don't think the others made that much of an impact."

Despite the name recognition, however, Hewitt expresses some pessimism about its chances.

"I don't think there's a huge buzz around Narnia," he says.

"There's no Lord of the Rings this year for the second year in a row, so our readers want something to fill that gap.

"But I think Harry Potter will be the more successful of the two - and while Narnia could be a good one-off instalment, the world's not really waiting for a sequel."

In the end, though, a third candidate - King Kong, Jackson's first film since the Lord of the Rings - may prove a bigger hit than both.

Wizards and witches are all very well, but on or off the screen neither would stand much of a chance against a 25-foot ape.

KEYWORDS: aslan; cslewis; harrypotter; jkrowling; lewis; narnia; narniaping; rowling; wardrobe
Narnia doesn't have a buzz? This guy doesn't have his ear to the ground.

I feel that Narnia can beat Harry Potter, short-term AND in the long run. Christians will want to go see Narnia, along with the Potter fans. But only the Pottheads will go to the Harry Potter movies.

And I wouldn't be so sure that King Kong will tromp either one. For one thing, the director himself, Lord of the Rings's Peter Jackson, is looking forward most to the Narnian film.

1 posted on 11/18/2005 3:02:43 PM PST by DaveLoneRanger
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To: Joe 6-pack; k2blader; Richard Kimball; nicmarlo; Uncle Vlad; tbird5; Borges; ConservativeDude; ...

You are being pinged because of your interest in Walden Media’s December 9th release of
“The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.”
Freep-mail if you want on/off this list.

Make sure to visit for all the latest news, rumors and information!

2 posted on 11/18/2005 3:04:19 PM PST by DaveLoneRanger (Celebrating my first full year on FR! Has it been one year already?? Has it only been one year??)
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To: DaveLoneRanger

We're planning to see Narnia and Harry Potter. Why not? Our children and grandchildren like both. Harry Potter is not as explicitly Christian, but you can make a case that it portrays good and evil in a basically Christian light. There was a good defense of it in the journal "Christianity and Literature" a few years back.

I really enjoy reading C. S. Lewis, and have read all of his books over the years: fiction, theology, criticism, the works. Actually, the best of his fantasies, less well known than Narnia or the SF trilogy, is "Till We Have Faces." Lewis fans who haven't read it, should.

But I like Harry Potter too.

As far as King Kong is concerned, I'll give it a miss. Yet another gigantic remake? I'll take Fay Wray.

3 posted on 11/18/2005 3:10:52 PM PST by Cicero (Marcus Tullius)
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To: Cicero

FYI: The 1933 version of King Kong has been restored and is finally coming out on DVD on Tuesday in a nifty 2 disc set.

4 posted on 11/18/2005 3:16:39 PM PST by Borges
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To: DaveLoneRanger

Some of us are going to both. I'm a Christian Narnia fan, as well as an HP fan. I think the audience had more overlap than you maybe think. They don't have to compete... I'm sure plenty of Narnia books got sold at the last Harry Potter book release, every bookstore I know had a table of "If you like Harry Potter, try these" with them on it.

5 posted on 11/18/2005 3:28:18 PM PST by JenB (NaNoWriMo Word Count: 32,450)
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To: DaveLoneRanger

I so wanted to see HP today, but the kids are seeing it. We'll see Narnia probably during Christmas break. Don't see why you are so against HP though.

6 posted on 11/18/2005 3:45:15 PM PST by mtbopfuyn (Legality does not dictate morality... Lavin)
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To: Cicero

"I'll take Fay Wray."

She died last year at the age of 96. But you're right, I don't see how the remake could be as good as the original, or how the star could be as naturally beautiful as Fay Wray was.

7 posted on 11/18/2005 4:06:31 PM PST by AuH2ORepublican (
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To: Cicero

How is the volume of the Oxford History of English Lit? I've been thinking about getting it, but it's pricey!

8 posted on 11/18/2005 4:32:12 PM PST by AnAmericanMother (. . . Ministrix of ye Chace (recess appointment), TTGC Ladies' Auxiliary . . .)
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To: AuH2ORepublican; Cicero
I actually MET Fay Wray when the first remastering of the film was shown here in Atlanta.

She was a charming, beautiful woman, and every inch a lady.

9 posted on 11/18/2005 4:33:13 PM PST by AnAmericanMother (. . . Ministrix of ye Chace (recess appointment), TTGC Ladies' Auxiliary . . .)
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To: DaveLoneRanger

I've got to agree with the author. Other than FR, I've heard very little buzz about Narnia. Even watching previews in the theater, no one reacted.

Part of it is many kids don't read the Narnia books anymore. I have 10 cousins and was surprised to find that only one ever read the series. It used to be standard reading in 5th grade, but my guess is the Christian theme got it kicked out.

10 posted on 11/18/2005 4:36:02 PM PST by Hoodlum91
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To: mtbopfuyn
We saw it today. Think it was the best one so far though darker and more emotional than the others. The only complaint I had was I missed John Williams' music.

Saw a trailer for King Kong. Amazing special effects.

11 posted on 11/18/2005 4:37:24 PM PST by lizma
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To: AnAmericanMother

What a privilege.

12 posted on 11/18/2005 5:22:19 PM PST by Cicero (Marcus Tullius)
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To: AnAmericanMother

It's one of the better volumes in the series. That and the seventeenth century volume by Douglas Bush. Lewis has often been bashed for speaking of the drab and golden styles in sixteenth century poetry, but he was absolutely right, except that plain is now generally used rather than drab.

I've occasionally seen it on sale, but I don't know how easy it would be to find a copy. Full price is more than I'd probably want to pay.

13 posted on 11/18/2005 5:27:11 PM PST by Cicero (Marcus Tullius)
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To: Cicero
Here's the answer:

ABE Books

This is a clearinghouse website for used books. Shoulda looked here sooner! (They even have copies of the Liber Usualis hovering in the 70 dollar range -- better than the $107 for the reprint!)

14 posted on 11/18/2005 5:49:54 PM PST by AnAmericanMother (. . . Ministrix of ye Chace (recess appointment), TTGC Ladies' Auxiliary . . .)
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To: AnAmericanMother

ABE books is one that I use. Also often has good prices for books and DVDs.

15 posted on 11/18/2005 5:58:52 PM PST by Cicero (Marcus Tullius)
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To: FineYoungGOPgal; jwfiv

Saw Potter and loved it. And I can't wait until Narnia comes out.

16 posted on 11/21/2005 3:46:37 PM PST by Serb5150 (4, 8, 15, 16, 23, 42)
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To: Serb5150

I figured you would have seen it by now.

Narnia will be cool ... never read the books, though.

17 posted on 11/21/2005 4:06:53 PM PST by jwfiv
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To: DaveLoneRanger
Harry could end with a Christian version if Harry finally forgives Snape and Draco. By the way I believe Snape will be a hero in the final book. If Harry keeps his bitterness and anger the whole series is a waste.
18 posted on 11/26/2005 5:16:17 AM PST by marbren
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