Monday Morning Quarterback Part I
By BOP Staff
December 13, 2010
Maybe it would do better if it weren't so hard to get toKim Hollis: The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, opened to $24 million. To put this number in perspective, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe earned $23 million on its first day. Why are audiences not interested in making return trips to Narnia?
Edwin Davies: The obvious reason for the Narnia series' lack of success is that, aside from The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, the books don't really have that much of a presence in popular culture and so whilst there was a definite and large audience for the first film, each subsequent film has had to rely more on the fact that they are part of a film franchise, rather than because the books they are based on are popular. (Contrast that with the Harry Potter series, where each film is not only part of a big name franchise, but each installment is based on a book which is hugely popular in its own right and you'll see what I mean.)
That brings us to the films themselves. When The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe came out in 2005, it was positioned as the natural successor to The Lord of the Rings films, which had dominated that time of the year from 2001-2003. Both were based on acclaimed books with generations of fans waiting to see the screen version, both promised fantasy action on a colossal scale, and both centered on quests that took place in outlandish worlds but were focused on stories that were straightforward enough that anyone could understand them without getting lost in the mythology. If that wasn't enough, the authors of the original books were friends. The difference was that whilst the Lord of the Rings trilogy has gone on to be acknowledged as a classic of modern film-making, The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe was generally regarded as a good but not spectacular fantasy film. Lots of people saw it and liked it (it wound up with $291.7 million domestic), but it didn't seem to generate the fervor that LotR did.
To me, that is crucial, because if the films were great, they would inspire people to go and check out the other books, building the audience for the next film and raising the awareness of the series as a whole. Whilst I'm sure that there are some people for whom that is true, it doesn't seem to have happened enough. Of the people who saw the first Narnia film, a significant proportion felt like that they had seen all they needed to see. Good to average films don't create the sort of large, rabid fanbase that a series like Narnia needs to keep going.
Reagen Sulewski: I recall this same discussion a couple of years ago with Prince Caspian, and I think it boils down to largely the same reason - people just don't know the books beyond The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. There's also a larger and more fatal reason - they're also not very good. In execution, these have been pale imitations of the Lord of the Rings films, and have lost their epic feel.
While it was sort of unavoidable, the gap between the films also didn't help - you really need to get these out one a year or at the most 18 months in order to keep the fires stoked.