M. Night Shyamalan took a look at Directing Narnia

If you know me, you know that one of my favorite directors is M. Night Shyamalan. Unlike many people, I’ve loved all of his movies with the one exception of The Happening. The rest, though, I love each for many reasons. In a new behind the scenes video for The Last Airbender, which is the first of a trilogy based on the Nickelodeon series Avatar: The Last Airbender, he mentions that he had been looking to find an epic series that he could direct. He mentioned looking at Harry Potter, which is well known, and also The Chronicles of Narnia.

It makes me wonder what a Narnia film directed by M. Night Shyamalan would look like. He is a very visual director and he’s a great director with children. We can only imagine what it would have been like. Not to mention that the composer he works with, James Newton Howard, is a musical genious. His score for Narnia would be epic and magical. Now he is focused on The Last Airbender trilogy of films as well as other original projects, so it’s unlikely that we’ll see him direct any of the future Narnia movies.

Read the rest of this entry »

Director Andrew Adamson on panel for International Achievement Award

Nominations were received from nine businesses and the judging panel of New Zealand Film Commission chief executive Graeme Mason, acclaimed New Zealand film director Andrew Adamson, Screen Directors Guild executive director Anna Cahill and Television Broadcasters’ Council Rick Friesen had the challenge of narrowing the finalists down to three. Read the full story for more information.

Read the rest of this entry »

NarniaFans Mailbag #30: Is Michael Apted qualified? Dawn Treader Promo Material? Caspian missing scenes?

Now for the thirtieth edition of the NarniaFans Mailbag! It’s good to be back, and I’m having a great time at this so far. I just need more letters. Then my esteemed team will be able to help answer questions (the earlier you ask them, the better). It gives us more time to do research and give you the best answer possible on the Thursday release date! This week’s questions cover the qualifications of Michael Apted, if there is any more Dawn Treader promotional material and scenes that a reader feels were missing from Prince Caspian.

Read the rest of this entry »

Christianity Today interview with Andrew Adamson

Director Andrew Adamson, whose latest Narnia movie, Prince Caspian, releases to theaters next week, fully feels the burden to get it just right.

Why’d you change this? Why did you leave out that? How come you didn’t …

Andrew Adamson has heard all those questions, and then some. When you’re trying to adapt some of the best-loved children’s books of all time into big-screen movies, there will be plenty of naysayers and nitpickers, and Adamson fully expected it.

Already an acclaimed director for the first two Shrek films, Adamson stepped into a whole ‘nother world, literally and figuratively, when he took on the first two Narnia films—2005’s The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, and the sequel Prince Caspian, which opens in theaters May 16.

We recently chatted by phone with the 41-year-old director, who was working on final edits and polishing up special effects in a London studio. His wife and daughters (Isabelle, 4½, and Sylvie, 2½) were living with him in London—sort of a home between homes for the New Zealand natives. After living in Los Angeles for more than a decade (making the Shrek and then the Narnia movies), Adamson will take a break after this one, moving back to his home country for some R&R and extended time with his family.

And he’ll pass the Narnia torch on to Michael Apted, the veteran British director behind such films as Amazing Grace and James Bond’s The World Is Not Enough. Apted is directing The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, slated for a 2010 release—and Adamson, who will stay on as a producer, assures fans that the franchise is in good hands.

Douglas Gresham [Lewis's stepson and a producer/consultant on the films] told us he doesn’t think Caspian is as good a book as Lion/Witch, but you’ve ended up with a better movie. Would you say that’s accurate?

Hard for me to say. Definitely the adaptation was more difficult in Prince Caspian, because the story of Lion/Witch was already very cinematic with sort of a five-act structure. In Prince Caspian a lot of the story is told in retrospect, with Trumpkin telling the kids what happened when they were gone. So I restructured it to make it more linear. It’s a challenge, but sometimes the limitations you face actually create more interesting solutions. And that’s what I think makes this movie feel like a bigger movie, a more complex and interesting movie.

Narnia devotees are going to nitpick your every single decision. Would you say that Doug Gresham is the biggest nitpicker of all?

He is a nitpicker, but it’s very rare that we have bumped heads on anything because we both have the desire to be true to the books. But there were times in the first film we did come to blows (laughing)—no, come to conflict, I should say—with things like Susan [Pevensie, one of the children in the books]. This was where C. S. Lewis had a feeling about women’s role in the world that differed a lot from mine—particularly with Susan getting to use her bow.

Do you tire of all of the nitpicking questions from the diehard fans, including me?

It’s a mixed blessing. You get positive things, and you get the negative too. But it’s inevitable, and you can’t tackle something like this without accepting that it’s going to happen—and you’re not going to make everyone happy. Even if I stayed true to the book word for word, I don’t believe I could make a movie that would make every fan happy. I talked to [Lord of the Rings director] Peter Jackson about this, and asked, “How true did you stay to the books?” And he said, “I’m getting credit for staying true to the books, but I changed a lot.” He said you can change stuff, as long as it’s good.

Christian readers are among the most devoted Narnia fans, and Lewis is revered in evangelical circles. Do you feel any sort of responsibility to the Christian audience?

I feel my responsibility to C. S. Lewis’s fans is just being true to the books, and letting people take from it what they will. What you take from it depends on your belief, and how much interpretation you place upon it. I think by staying true to the book, I’m staying true to what any fan gets from the book.

Read the rest of the interview at: ChristianityToday.com

Dawn Treader’s New Casting Director, Production Designer

Joining director Michael Apted on The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader are production designer Jan Roelfs and casting director Nina Gold.

Jan Roelfs has worked on such films as Little Women (1994), Gattaca (1997), Alexander (2004) and World Trade Center (2006). He was nominated for two Academy Awards as Art Director. Once for Gattaca and another time for Orlando (1992). Orlando is a film that featured actress Tilda Swinton (LWW’s White Witch), an odd connection.

Nina Gold, whom we’ve known was casting director for a little more than a month, has worked with Michael Apted on both Amazing Grace (2007), and the television series Rome (2005). She also provided casting for The Illusionist (2006) and Sahara (2005) among many others. She’s also been nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Casting for a Miniseries, Movie or a Special for: The Life and Death of Peter Sellers (2004).

Welcome to the crew, both of you! We look forward to seeing your work! Jan Roelfs takes the reigns from previous art director Roger Ford. Nina Gold follows Pippa Hall and Gail Steven’s work on the previous two films as well.

Michael Apted Directing Voyage of the Dawn Treader

Hot off the heels of Amazing Grace, director Michael Apted has been given the task of directing Walden Media and Disney’s third Chronicles of Narnia film, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. Aint It Cool News broke the story, and you can read all about it here.

Anyway – Mrs. Beaver visited me… and after my Pom was drugged, I had some nice cookies and tea with Mrs. Beaver and asked her why she was visiting. Turns out, Mrs. Beaver came a very long way to chat with me about THE VOYAGE OF THE DAWN TREADER. We all heard that Andrew Adamson was vying out of the directing duties on DAWN TREADER, the third Narnia film… He’s still going to produce the film, but a new director was needed. Mrs. Beaver came directly to me to share the scoop.

The director of THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA: THE VOYAGE OF THE DAWN TREADER is… MICHAEL APTED!!!

That’s right, the tremendous director behind the __ UP series of docs, GORKY PARK, COAL MINER’S DAUGHTER, GORILLAS IN THE MIST, the criminally underrated THUNDERHEART… and most recently AMAZING GRACE!

Given Michael’s upbringing in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, England… Given that the first Narnia book was written when Apted was a strapping 8 years old… and continued to come out through him reaching the age of 13… the PRIME ages to have read that series… I’m betting that he’s a huge honking NARNIA fan from the get go.

All I know is that Apted is a fine director and he’s never really tackled material on this scale, closest being his Bond film, but that’s nothing near THE VOYAGE OF THE DAWN TREADER in terms of scope or effects. But hopefully his enthusiasm and attention to detail will give us something remarkable!

Props to AICN for the scoop!

Voyage of the Dawn Treader Director Selected

Earlier this year, we learned that Andrew Adamson would not come back to direct the Voyage of the Dawn Treader due to other commitments. However, the new director may have been selected.

We don’t know who it is yet, but we believe that pre-production of the Dawn Treader has begun.

The locations for the filming of the movie are being considered, and the screenwriters are busy transforming the book into movie format. However, our sources have informed us to put no stock into these rumors until we hear further from them.

Adamson recognized for Services to Film

New Zealand-born director Andrew Ralph Adamson has been recognised for his services to film. He has been made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit, in the Queen’s Birthday Honours.

Adamson inhabits a different world in the same industry. He now lives in Los Angeles and his last film, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, was one of the biggest box office hits of last year, grossing US$428 million ($679 million). The film earned a Golden Globe nomination and an Oscar for make-up.

He also directed the animated box-office monsters Shrek and Shrek 2.

LWW Nominated for 8 Saturn Awards

The Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror films announced the nominations for the 32nd annual Saturn Awards on Feb. 15, and leading the pack is George Lucas’ Star Wars: Episode III—Revenge of the Sith, with 10 nominations. The awards will be presented May 2 in Universal City, Calif.

Batman Begins came in a close second, with nine nominations. The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire each received eight nominations.

In the television categories, ABC’s Lost and The WB’s Smallville received a total of six nominations each. SCI FI Channel’s original series Battlestar Galactica garnered four nominations, while SCI FI’s Stargate SG-1 and its original miniseries The Triangle each received three nominations.

This year the academy established categories to honor and recognize video-game releases. Games that received nominations include Psychonauts, Timesplitters: Future Perfect, Guild Wars, F.E.A.R., Indigo Prophecy, Star Wars Battlefront II and Peter Jackson’s King Kong.

Best Fantasy Film

•Batman Begins (Warner Bros.)
•Charlie & the Chocolate Factory (Warner Bros.)
•The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (Buena Vista)
•Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Warner Bros.)
•King Kong (Universal)
•Zathura (Sony)

Best Actress

•Jodie Foster
Flightplan (Buena Vista)
•Laura Linney
The Exorcism of Emily Rose (Screen Gems / Sony)
•Rachel McAdams
Red Eye (DreamWorks SKG)
•Natalie Portman
Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith (20th Century Fox/Lucasfilm)
•Tilda Swinton
The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
(Buena Vista)
•Naomi Watts
King Kong (Universal)

Best Performance by a Younger Actor

•Alex Etel
Millions (Fox Searchlight)
•Dakota Fanning
War of the Worlds (Paramount)
•Freddie Highmore
Charlie & the Chocolate Factory (Warner Bros.)
•Josh Hutcherson
Zathura (Sony)
•William Moseley
The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
(Buena Vista)
•Daniel Radcliffe
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Warner Bros.)

Best Director

•Andrew Adamson
The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
(Buena Vista)
•Peter Jackson
King Kong (Universal)
•George Lucas
Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith (20th Century Fox/Lucasfilm)
•Mike Newell
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Warner Bros.)
•Christopher Nolan
Batman Begins (Warner Bros.)
•Steven Spielberg
War of the Worlds (Paramount)

Best Writer

•Steve Kloves
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Warner Bros.)
•David Koepp
War of the Worlds (Paramount)
•Christopher Nolan
David S. Goyer
Batman Begins (Warner Bros.)
•Ann Peacock
Andrew Adamson
Christopher Markus
Steven McFeely
The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
(Buena Vista)
•George Lucas
Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith (20th Century Fox/Lucasfilm)
•Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Peter Jackson
King Kong (Universal)

Best Costume

•Trisha Biggar
Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith (20th Century Fox/Lucasfilm)
•Lindy Hemming
Batman Begins (Warner Bros.)
•Isis Mussenden
The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
(Buena Vista)
•Gabriella Pescucci
Charlie & the Chocolate Factory (Warner Bros.)
•Terry Ryan
King Kong (Universal)
•Jany Temime
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Warner Bros.)

Best Make Up

•Howard Berger
Nikki Gooley
The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
(Buena Vista)
•Howard Berger
Greg Nicotero
Land of the Dead (Universal)
•Howard Berger
Greg Nicotero
Sin City (Buena Vista)
•Nick Dudman
Amanda Knight
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Warner Bros.)
•Dave Elsey
Lou Elsey
Nikki Gooley
Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith (20th Century Fox/Lucasfilm)
•Richard Taylor
Gino Acevedo
Dominie Till
Peter Swords-King
King Kong (Universal)

Best Special Effects

•John Knoll
Roger Guyett
Rob Coleman
Brian Gernand
Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith (20th Century Fox/Lucasfilm)
•Joe Letteri
Richard Taylor
Christian Rivers
Brian Van’t Hul
King Kong (Universal)
•Jim Mitchell
Tim Alexander
Tim Webber
John Richardson
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Warner Bros.)
•Dennis Muren
Pablo Helman
Randal M. Dutra
Daniel Sudick
War of the Worlds (Paramount)
•Janek Sirrs
Dan Glass
Chris Corbould
Paul Franklin
Batman Begins (Warner Bros.)
•Dean Wright
Bill Westenhofer
Jim Berney
Scott Farrar
The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
(Buena Vista)

It’s also the last day to vote for James McAvoy for the BAFTA Awards.

Andrew Adamson Interview for The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

Paul Fischer caught up with the film’s director in New York.

Question: Was it hard to be true to the book, doing the adaptation?

Adamson: Yes and no. I actually set out really not to make the book so much as my memory of the book because I realized in reading the book as an adult that it was kind of like the house that you grew up in, much smaller than I remembered. And I wanted to catch the more epic story that I remembered which I think was expanded by my experiences over 30 years, by the fact that I had read all seven books, and that the world had actually expanded C.S. Lewis in writing all seven books.

Question: How influential was Lewis’ stepson and did you 2 see eye-to-eye on everything?

Adamson: Douglas Gresham was actually a huge cheerleader. He had wanted to make this movie for 15 years and wanted to find somebody who was gonna to make the book in a way that he felt C.S. Lewis had intended, and we shared that in common. So we always tended to agree on most things. He was a huge asset and at times when I was adapting, particularly in the writing process, when I could call him up and say, look does this take anything away from what Jack intended or does this addition change things too much? The only thing we really debated at any length was what I considered a sexist aspect of the book. It’s when Father Christmas gives weapons to the kids, and says to the girls, I don’t intend you to use them because weapons are ugly when women fight. I just came off doing two films which I think were empowering to girls — the Princess Fiona character I think is an empowering character — and I said to Doug, I understand that C.S. Lewis might have had these dated ideals, but at the same time there’s no way I could put that in a film . . . He wasn’t really expressing his own ideas so much as C.S. Lewis and the way I got around it, I think, is that I said — he wrote this book before I met your mom. And if you look at his books actually after he met Joy, there are a lot more strong female characters. I think he had more exposure to strong female characters after that point. And Doug really was the one who came to the sort of compromise that worked, which is just Father Christmas saying — I hope you don’t have to use them because battles are ugly affairs. And that could apply to both girls and boys.

[read the rest at Dark Horizons]