Mark Johnson Talks Narnia at Comic-Con
Given that PRINCE CASPIAN, the sequel to THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE, is still in the embryonic stages of development, Mark Johnson couldn’t offer much information as to what we can expect from the film so the panel was really about the upcoming release of four-disc extended edition DVD (which will be released December 12th). Here’s what he had to say.
– They start shooting PRINCE CASPIAN January of next year.
– Everyone is coming back for the sequel including the four principals who play the Pevensie children.
– For some reason, he gave updates on each of the children: He recently spoke to Georgie Henley, who plays Lucy Pevensie, and she apparently wasn’t interested in discussing the film and instead told him about a game of rounders she’d just played. Anna Popplewell, who plays Susan Pevensie, recently graduated (high school, I’m assuming) and was first in her class (go Anna!). Skandar Keynes, who plays Edmund Pevensie, apparently just got out of Beirut and they were slightly terrified for his safety given the terrible war raging there. Finally, William Moseley, who plays Peter Pevensie, is dating Johnson’s niece (go William!). Again, I have no idea why the update on the kids but hey, he said it so I’m telling ya!
After Johnson’s rather short spiel, they played a video of what we can expect from the four-disc special edition. The first was a C.S. Lewis biography featuring the likes of Ben Kingsley and some other folks giving little anecdotes about Lewis like his insistence on being called Jack as a child. The second was a featurette titled “Visualizing Narnia” which dealt with, you guessed it, visualizing Narnia – nothing really of major note other than the fact that, you know, the production designers, visual effects people and anyone else who contributed to the look of the film “visualized” Narnia rather effectively.
Disney’s big panel was up next, and the first half focused on the upcoming 4-disc Extended Edition of The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, & the Wardrobe, which is releasing this Christmas. A few of the behind-the-scenes bonus features were shown, and looked downright fascinating. One of them is a documentary on the life and influence of C.S. Lewis. A trailer of sorts was also shown, highlighting some of the additional 14 minutes of footage that’s being added to the film — much of which is requiring all-new CGI work.
Producer Mark Johnson also gave an update on Prince Caspian:
-Filming is set to begin in January 2007 for a Summer 2008 release.
-Johnson and director Andrew Adamson didn’t want to do a second Narnia film unless they could figure out how to make it bigger, badder, and overall better than the first. Just about six months ago, they finally figured out a way to adapt the story of Prince Caspian in this way. Though it will remain faithful to Lewis’ story, look for quite a bit of added material to enhance the film and make it significantly bigger in scale than The Lion, the Witch, & the Wardrobe.
-Where LWW had approximately 1,600 visual effects shots, Prince Caspian is expected to have possibly up to 2,200.
-All four children from the original cast will return, though one of them recently had a serious scare. Skandar Keynes, who plays Edmund, and his mother “just made it safely out of Beirut a few days ago.”
The much awaited DVD release of The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe received a warm welcome at the Disney panel. Mark Johnson, one of the award-winning producers of Narnia greeted the attendees with a preview of the 4-disc extended edition of The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe.
The first clip showed the stepson, Douglas Gresham, of Narnia author C.S. Lewis speaking about his stepfather and the legacy he left with his books. Additional luminaries on the DVD feature included academics as well as actors such as Ben Kingsley. Another clip featured was called, Visualizing Narnia, where the subject will be the blurring between CGI imagery and reality and its relationship to the making of Narnia.
During the question and answer session of the presentation, one fan asked the question of why the movie franchise was being made out of sequence with respect to the novels. Johnson said that they wanted to establish who the children were in the first movie and then proceed with the rest of the stories with the children being the main focus.
Another fan asked if all the novels will be made into movies. Johnson replied that every movie will be a challenge. He and his associates had no idea of the success that the first movie would bring. They were as surprised by it as much as anyone. He added that each succeeding movie had to be different and better the one preceding it or they would not attempt to make the movies.