The same Disney that wouldn't foot the bill for its Miramax label to do three films based on J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings trilogy (New Line Cinema did it, instead) is hoping to launch a seven-part franchise culled from the vivid writings of one of Tolkien's colleagues. As a result, Wardrobe is a lavish spectacle that aims to reach heights of sophistication and scope that haven't been seen in non-animated Disney family films since Mary Poppins floated onto the big screen in 1964.
"This is mature family entertainment," says Narnia producer Mark Johnson, who has overseen such films as The Alamo and The Notebook. He and director Andrew Adamson, responsible for much of the wit and heart found in the Shrek computer-animated comedies, insisted that the digitally rendered animals would push the limits of photo-realism. As Johnson says, "It would be a big mistake if the creatures appear to be cuddly stuffed animals on a little girl's bed."
The folks at Walden Media told me it is their intent to be faithful to C.S. Lewis.
Faithfulness to the source will likely be of higher importance than faith itself. That is where [director Andrew] Adamson comes in. Much as director and fellow New Zealander Peter Jackson used his own love of Tolkien as a guide to bring the Rings trilogy to the screen, Adamson, 38, is relying on the good-vs.-evil battle that unfolded in his imagination as he read the books as an 8-year-old.
"You ultimately can only make something that appeals to your own sensibilities," says Auckland-born Adamson, whose parents were both associate missionaries in Papua New Guinea. "I am not making religion an issue one way or another. It's a story about family. People should take from it what they want to take from it."
Chronicles of Narnia movie site
Into the Wardrobe: a C.S.Lewis website
(He has a recipe for Turkish Delight on this site. No wonder it tastes like roses!)