What does SC need to do to Achieve Success?

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What does SC need to do to Achieve Success?

Postby Impending Doom » Mar 02, 2018 5:42 pm

Seven years have passed since the last Narnia film opened in theaters. It's no secret that Walden Media's films were never the success that many predicted they would be. For one reason or another, they never seemed to find their footing at the box-office or even on a creative level.

Here we are in 2018 with another Narnia film on its way. In many ways, we are back to the very beginning. A new production company, distribution group, and creative team. But with at least one advantage - we have seen what went wrong with the previous films and are able to avoid similar mistakes.

Since we're expecting a big year as the production team ramps up with filming set for December, I thought it would be a good time to look ahead. What do you feel SC needs to do differently to achieve the success that Walden's films failed to obtain/sustain? Either creatively or financially.
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Re: What does SC need to do to Achieve Success?

Postby Impending Doom » Mar 02, 2018 5:49 pm

I'll get the conversation started.

I think SC needs on-screen talent that is a name. LWW had the appeal of being an event film. It had the benefit of being an adaptation of one of the best selling books of all time. It was irrelevant who was starring in the film because the name itself had that much of a draw. It allowed Adamson to cast unknown actors into main roles and use a couple 'bigger' actors in support. SC doesn't carry near that same level of wide-readership or fanfare attached to it. It needs more to excite general audiences for a new Narnia adaptation.

Having an exciting name in your leading role(s) would change the entire narrative early on in your production. It forces the conversation to evolve from revolving around the disappointment of past films to the potential in the future ones. That's how you rebuild a (somewhat) damaged brand. Puddleglum, Jill, and Rilian are the key opportunities to cast a legitimate name. I believe SC will have a better chance to achieve success if it would attach a couple of names to the project.

Of course, there are several ways to create excitement but the cast is perhaps the easiest approach. Though the quality of the film will dictate it's ultimate success.
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Re: What does SC need to do to Achieve Success?

Postby narnia fan 7 » Mar 03, 2018 7:28 am

From the business side I think one thing they need to do is keep the budget as low as they can. For years a lot of us have been saying SC would probably have a lower budget, at least in comparison to the Walden films, which were all $150+Million, and budget size was part of what did in PC and to some extent VDT. Based on what little we've heard about SC it seems like it's still going to be a $100+ Million dollar movie, but I think keeping it at least under $150 Mil would give it a better chance of being a financial success.

Also giving SC a release date that doesn't directly compete with another big film would also help with box office. Of course you can't completely avoid competition, especially now of days were it seems like big-budget movies are released pretty much year around. But it sure helps to not shoot you're self in the foot like what happened with PC.

It's also going to be interesting too see how they market SC. I know the fact it's a reboot has upset some people, but I think the might end of helping SC more than not hurts it. With the possible exception of LWW the Walden films aren't exactly beloved by general audiences, heck most kids who would see SC will probably have never seen the Walden films. Just having "Narnia" in the title isn't going to sell the film to most people. They are really going to have to sell people on this story and this story alone.

Impending Doom wrote:Having an exciting name in your leading role(s) would change the entire narrative early on in your production.
That's true, hence why they seem to be going after Millie Bobby Brown. I know a lot of fans prefer more unknown actors as opposed to big names. Personally I only care about whether the actor fits the role, regardless of whether it's a big name or not.

Now on to the important stuff. From the creative side I think the most important thing is for them to stay true to the book (Shocking I know.) We all know there will be the inevitable cuts, changes, and additions, but Lewis wrote a great book with a great story and I think as long as they stick the core of the book, characters, and themes, it will make a good film.

Another important thing is to not dumb anything down. That was one of the major problems with VDT, pretty much everything from the characters, to the themes, and even the dialog, were dumbed down to the point of annoyance. They need to let the story speak for it's self and not hold the audiences hand like a toddler. And this also applies to not avoiding the dark parts of the book, something Walden seemed inclined to do.
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Re: What does SC need to do to Achieve Success?

Postby coracle » Mar 03, 2018 9:10 am

There are a few interesting points here so far.

Casting: LWW did not have known names for the four children, but Tilda Swinton was a big name, and so was Liam Neeson. Add the very famous Dawn French, and a number of very well known and capable actors for the smaller roles....

For this film it's essential to have Jill and Eustace played by young actors - to be played as no older than 11 or 12 - who have already established themselves internationally. Eustace needs to be a well known name as well as Jill, so that there will not be a sense of disappointment that he is no longer being played by Will Poulter.

Puddleglum definitely needs to be a very well known actor, preferably internationally.

Rilian is a different matter; people who have not read the book deserve to be surprised when the silly young man in Underworld turns out to be the very one they are searching for. This means either he can't be seen properly in scenes showing his mother's death, and his later riding out into the forest.... OR he will have to be in some sort of mask or disguise until he is set free from the enchantment.
And if a well known face is cast, then it will be all right for him to be seen in the earlier scenes, but not for the later ones. It wouldn't work for him to be seen only later - half the audience would know who he was.

In terms of budget - LWW was made only a few years after Lord of the Rings (with its 11 Oscars in 2004), so there were high expectations for a blockbuster movie.

I hope very much that there will be a greenlight announcment soon, so that they can start to announce other details, such as designer, costumer, makeup and of course casting. It is unfortunate that a story leaked to early about an actor who might play Jill. If she does sign to play her, the second wave of announcement might have less impace.
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Re: What does SC need to do to Achieve Success?

Postby Mrs Smooshy » Mar 06, 2018 11:43 pm

I'm so out of touch with the hip and happening these days that the movie could be entirely cast with "big names" and I would be none-the-wiser unless it's someone obvious like Nicole Kidman or Meryl Streep or something (I am NOT advocating for them to be cast, by the way).

The Narnia movies were on TV over the weekend so I re-watched the first two for the first time in years (even though we have them on DVD). We don't have satellite at home but the Mr and I were on a rare vacation and our accommodations allowed us that luxury. We left before we could watch the third so we didn't skip that on principle or anything. All that back story to say, we were discussing what we liked and didn't like about the movies. Well, it was mostly me talking as I am more invested. ;)

What I think this new movie reboot needs to do is love the source material. Yes, there are going to be changes and I might not even agree with all of them but the writers and director need to embrace even the so-called "silly" aspects of the books. I often got the impression from some of the previous film crew that they didn't overly respect the books as written -- just their popularity or their childhood memories of the books. And these books are Christian books. Even if you are not a Christian you need to respect that. I feel like being shy about that in the earlier movies neutered Aslan. Just follow the books and let people make their own interpretations. Even diluting the message in the earlier films had people mocking the "Jesus" aspect so it's going to happen either way.

Finally, embrace that the stories are not Lord of the Rings Lite nor a precursor to Harry Potter. I missed that child-like wonder and love of Narnia itself. I think the previous films forgot to make Narnia a character in its own right. We love Narnia for its own sake. And man, I would love to see more of the actual woodland creatures and less of the tigers and cheetahs. More rabbits and badgers and stags and regular dogs, that sort of thing. And more solid dryads. The leafy things were neat as transition effect but it would be nice if the leaves would come together and morph into an actual person. Save on effects (maybe, I don't know how it works).

And has the film not been greenlit? So it still might not happen? I had been assuming it was. Better keep my hopes in check for the time being...
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Re: What does SC need to do to Achieve Success?

Postby Skilletdude » Mar 07, 2018 1:44 pm

As already mentioned, the budget needs to be kept tightly under control. As stunning as PC looked in several places, production cost was $225 million! Walden blamed PC's box office returns on the wrong thing. It wasn't the darker tone (it was very appropriate for the story), it was the miscalculation of that book's recognition and possibly the series' overall popularity. The general public knows Narnia through LWW, but doesn't know the series as a whole nearly as well.

That leaves the most passionate supporters of The Chronicles, and they are probably still in the faith-based Christian communities. Even if some of them try to force Narnia into a Pilgrim's Progress allegory mold, it's a very important group to please as they are already familiar with SC as a story and would likely be the ones to spread the word about the film to friends and family. When it's perceived that the movie industry belittles, distorts or even attacks Christianity, this provides the producers with a unique opportunity to stand out from the pack. The filmmakers should work to instill confidence in this particular audience, that Lewis' worldview and beliefs are preserved and respected in their film. From Johnston's interview comments, he seems to have a firm understanding of this. To paraphrase his words, the book has these elements naturally woven into the narrative and so they will be there, but they won't be highlighted in neon or served with a sledgehammer.

Speaking of marketing, it needs to project confidence in the source material. I think a big reason why VODT was largely panned by critics and a good portion of the audience is because it looked and felt desperate. The trailers used taglines like "the magic of Narnia returns", and focused so heavily on the sparkles and whimsy of the story. It came off as tacky and childish, and when the film itself wasn't particularly strong and abandoned much of what Lewis wrote, did they really expect it to be a runaway success?
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Re: What does SC need to do to Achieve Success?

Postby hiraeth » May 24, 2018 10:45 pm

So I’ve been watching the trailer for Andy Serkis’ Mowgli, and it struck me that there are definitely similarities between what it and SC are trying to accomplish. Mowgli is coming in only two years after the financially and critically successful Disney version of The Jungle Book, with what seems to be a more source material centred, darker, grittier version of the story. It seems that that might be what Joe Johnston and the rest of the team on SC are working towards-the trailer for Mowgli shows that the film is both commercial and epic, and more dark and serious in tone. Joe Johnston has definitely put emphasis on the fact that SC will be a darker film, whilst being epic and marketable. Anyhow, I’m excited to see how Mowgli plays out. I imagine it’s going to be pretty hard to get Mowgli to be financially successful, especially since audiences would have just seen the Disney adaptation, but if it does work, then maybe SC can do the same.
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Re: What does SC need to do to Achieve Success?

Postby Anfinwen » May 25, 2018 6:50 pm

That's a good point about the similarities. Honestly, I think a lot of companies are in the same boat, desperately trying to appeal to a jaded audience that has seen it all. (I'm not, because I don't watch a lot of movies) Right now they are either going for nostalgia by revisiting classics and already beloved characters or else trying to shock the audience by doing as many unexpected and twisted things as possible. However, they are going about it the wrong way by trying to make everything bigger, more epic and either glitzier or darker. We're to the point where CGI annoys people instead of wowing. Glumpuddle has said it all along, SC needs to be about a girl and boy who go on a journey that changes them. The filmmakers need to go for a classic filming style, not over-used characters or plot. Make this a film that takes people back to the good old days by using practical effects instead of overboard CGI. Make a movie that leaves people feeling happy and satisfied instead of jolted and frazzled by too many plots, themes, and explosions. That's my opinion :-B
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Re: What does SC need to do to Achieve Success?

Postby hiraeth » May 26, 2018 6:25 am

I definitely agree with you about keeping the essence of SC, Anfinwen. I think sometimes movies lose their footing because they aren’t sure of what they’re supposed to be, and having that simplicity of this journey with a young girl is kind of like grounding the film.

But as for the tone, I think it should flow from the story, rather than, ‘Hey, let’s make this dark.’ After all, SC does have a darkness to it, and I’m fine with the film being darker in tone, if it comes from the story. And if the film has epic moments, I’m OK with that, so long as it flows with the story and the visuals.

I have to admit that I love the Mowgli trailer, and it’s just my opinion, but I think that kind of tone would suit SC. What do you guys think?
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Re: What does SC need to do to Achieve Success?

Postby Impending Doom » May 26, 2018 11:31 am

hiraeth wrote: Mowgli is coming in only two years after the financially and critically successful Disney version of The Jungle Book, with what seems to be a more source material centred, darker, grittier version of the story.

From my perspective, The Silver Chair is almost a polar opposite of what you described. It will be released a decade after the poorly received and financial disappointment, Fox adaptation of an entirely different story w/ very little connection to SC.

I don't think the success of Mowgli will have any insight into how SC will perform. From a marketing perspective, Silver Chair will be an entirely different beast.

hiraeth wrote:I have to admit that I love the Mowgli trailer, and it’s just my opinion, but I think that kind of tone would suit SC. What do you guys think?

Though I am looking forward to Mowgli very much, I hope not. It comes across as much too "summer blockbuster" for a Narnia film. It has a sense of desperation in its marketing that is a definite turn-off.

I'd much rather see SC marketed similarly to Mary Poppins Returns. It's confident and unique. I love how it gives you a sense of how the film will feel rather than an overreliance on voiceover and epic shots. It seems more respectful to its source material than an updated, commercial retelling.
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Re: What does SC need to do to Achieve Success?

Postby narnia fan 7 » May 26, 2018 12:16 pm

hiraeth wrote:I have to admit that I love the Mowgli trailer, and it’s just my opinion, but I think that kind of tone would suit SC. What do you guys think?

I disagree. Yes, Silver Chair dose have a sort of bleaker tone and some darker elements to it, and I certainly don't want the movie to shy away from those moments of dumb them down. But in addition to that, they need to maintain the kind of fairy tale wonder that's so intrinsic to the books. I don't really think the "dark and gritty" tone the Mowgli trailer has would really fit Narnia at all.
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Re: What does SC need to do to Achieve Success?

Postby hiraeth » May 27, 2018 12:46 am

I see what you mean about the differences, Impending Doom, but I guess I was thinking more along the lines of the entire Walden trilogy. I guess I found it interesting, how the Mowgli trailer was taking a story, or a world audiences had seen before and was making it tonally distinctive. But yeah, SC is a different beast. It excites me, really, seeing how this will turn out.

It’s interesting comparing SC to Mary Poppins Returns and that whole sense of atmosphere in a trailer. I was watching one of the trailers for Life of Pi, which focussed more on different moments in the film, or in the life of Pi, rather than the story. It would definitely be cool if SC had that kind of tone. However, I guess what attracted me to the whole tone of Mowgli and how that could relate to SC was the sense of seriousness Mowgli seems to have. It takes itself and it’s characters seriously, and that’s what I’m hoping SC will do.

I see what you’re saying about that fairytale wonder, narnia fan 7, but I don’t think having a darker perspective will necessarily take away from that. If done right, it might help elevate that feeling onscreen. You need true darkness to feel true joy, right? I definitely agree with you about the film being honest. I was watching a video about the Mowgli trailer where the people in it were talking about the real stakes that are shown, how there are actual consequences for the decisions characters make. I guess I want SC to have that danger, and not be all ‘things are going to be OK, they’re just kids’.
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Re: What does SC need to do to Achieve Success?

Postby Impending Doom » May 28, 2018 11:37 am

hiraeth wrote:I see what you mean about the differences, Impending Doom, but I guess I was thinking more along the lines of the entire Walden trilogy. I guess I found it interesting, how the Mowgli trailer was taking a story, or a world audience had seen before and was making it tonally distinctive. But yeah, SC is a different beast. It excites me, really, seeing how this will turn out.

It’s interesting comparing SC to Mary Poppins Returns and that whole sense of atmosphere in a trailer. I was watching one of the trailers for Life of Pi, which focussed more on different moments in the film, or in the life of Pi, rather than the story. It would definitely be cool if SC had that kind of tone. However, I guess what attracted me to the whole tone of Mowgli and how that could relate to SC was the sense of seriousness Mowgli seems to have. It takes itself and it’s characters seriously, and that’s what I’m hoping SC will do.


I definitely agree that I hope the marketing makes it clear that SC is tonally distinct. But I think focusing on the epic, more dark and serious would be a drastic mistake. This discussion reminds me of conversations prior to Prince Caspian film. That marketing strategy was to emphasize the grandeur and darkness of the story. It didn't focus on any specific characters or motivations. In the end, it seemed to lack any heart or atmosphere. Mowgli has the same issue.

I think it's pivotal SC contains a darker, more dreary tone. But it's the world and its characters that will attract audiences and set it apart.

hiraeth wrote: I was watching a video about the Mowgli trailer where the people in it were talking about the real stakes that are shown, how there are actual consequences for the decisions characters make. I guess I want SC to have that danger, and not be all ‘things are going to be OK, they’re just kids’.


I honestly think the best way to express that is by showing our characters motivations. Caspian may actually die without seeing his only son again. Jill is being bullied at her school and it's clearly affecting her. Narnia may soon be without an air to the throne. Without, it's just dangerous consequences for characters we don't care about. Trailers should entice audiences - make us care.

I think it's promising that press releases and interviews from the production team have understood this need. Using words like tender, personal, emotional, and heart. Hopefully, that is clearly communicated in the marketing and film.
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Re: What does SC need to do to Achieve Success?

Postby hiraeth » May 28, 2018 11:50 pm

I think our opinions actually align more than they seem, Impending Doom. You said that the stakes and danger should come from the character’s motivations, and not from focussing on all the epicness and grandeur. I meant the same thing. I don’t want the filmmakers to make the film dark because dark is cool right now. As I said before, I want the darkness to flow from the story. So Aslan’s Curse, Jill being bullied, Eustace coming to grips with Caspian being 70 years older than him, events and scenes like that. I want the danger, and the darkness, and whatever else to flow from the characters and the story.
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Re: What does SC need to do to Achieve Success?

Postby Impending Doom » May 29, 2018 10:23 am

hiraeth wrote:I think our opinions actually align more than they seem, Impending Doom. You said that the stakes and danger should come from the character’s motivations, and not from focussing on all the epicness and grandeur. I meant the same thing. I don’t want the filmmakers to make the film dark because dark is cool right now.

I think so too. We just disagree that Mowgli is a good example of what we're both trying to accomplish (from a marketing perspective).

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Re: What does SC need to do to Achieve Success?

Postby TimmyofOz » Jun 01, 2018 3:23 pm

The producers of TSC should have as little connection of this film with the Walden Media films as possible. I hope this move will be a strong stand alone movie. In the book we know that Scrubb has been to Narnia before, but that is all. Scrubb hardly reprises his character from VDT. He is not even barely referred to as Eustace as far as dialog goes. I am all for a strong reboot. I think it should be called The Silver Chair: A Narnia Story. Cut it off completely from the Pevensie stories.

Prince Caspian is not even needed in this film except that he is the Prince Rilian's father. I think another character ought to be killed and brought back to life at the end by Aslan. Being a story mostly about Jill and her feelings, the character that dies should be a character she is more associated with. Just think if Puddleglum was killed by the Green Lady and left in the Underworld only to be be seen again in Aslan's Country.
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