Christian Music Planet Chats to Mark Johnson
talks to producer Mark Johnson about the integrity of the themes in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. Thanks to Trinity for sending in the article.
Behind the Scenes of the Chronicles of Narnia
What does it take to pull off a major motion picture that is aspiring to the hallowed, rare status of blockbuster?
For producer Mark Johnson, who has labored intensively over the much-anticipated feature film version of the C.S. Lewis book “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe”, the numbers tell only part of the story. Three years. About 1,600 visual effects. A phone book full of support crews. Pallets of caffeine pills. And a $150 million budget.
“I have never done a movie this size before,” says Johnson, who has overseen flicks such as The Natural, The Notebook and Donnie Brasco. “I knew we would have a year in post-production, and it seemed like all the time in the world. But I can’t complain — it really is the main delight I have had making a movie.”
Late night caffeine fests aside, Johnson & Co. know the stakes are high with the Disney feature slated for a Dec. 9 release — but so are the potential payoffs. The last several years have seen a dramatic surge in both fantasy-oriented movies and religious-themed movies — and “Narnia” has both elements going for it.
So how does Johnson think that bodes for his film’s appeal? “It’s a double-edged sword,” he surmises. “On one hand, millions of readers have enjoyed the book — and many of them are very interested in the movie. At the same time, it puts a huge obligation on our heads — I have never felt the obligation to get it right to the degree I have with this film. There are a lot of people who expect it to be done right.”
Among them are several Christians who hope biblical allegories will be represented at least to some degree. But “Narnia’s” producer doesn’t anticipate that will be an issue. “If you liked the book, you will feel the same way about the movie — no matter what your reasons for liking the book,” Johnson insists. “All the values and significant moments are in the movie. The reason I know the movie works — beside the incredible effects — is because of the emotions of the characters.”
Johnson gives ultimate credit to Lewis for what he hopes will be “Narnia’s” broad appeal. And while it is Johnson’s job to be faithful to the Lewis text, it looks as though at least one of Disney’s jobs is to reach out to the faithful.
Snugly within the media conglomerate’s marketing campaign — reportedly the most ambitious in the company’s history — is a hand extended to the church. In the works is a DVD aimed at clergy, church-based group ticket sales and what Disney hopes will be support from 40,000 youth workers across the nation.
Whether or not this leads to eye-opening numbers posted by “The Passion of the Christ” and “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy remains to be seen.