Hollywood Wiretap Interviews Mark Johnson
Hollywood Wiretap – “The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian” is the sequel to a blockbuster that reportedly cost $180 million and grossed more than $745 million worldwide. It begins shooting on February 12, 2007 in New Zealand and then moves to Prague before ultimately finishing production next August.
Currently, Johnson has a production deal with Walden Media to make G and PG-rated movies (from which has come the “Narnia” franchise and “How to Eat Fried Worms”). He is free to take his other movies anywhere. We reached Johnson in Prague, where he is deep into pre-production on the “Narnia” sequel.
HWT: “The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian” is the kind of movie that Walt Disney has said it will focus on in its new plan to make 10 or branded films a year. Has this new strategy trimmed your budget or given you more financial freedom?
MJ: We are having big budget discussions with Disney right now, but I think we would’ve had them two years ago. When you start making a movie on this scale, everything becomes scrutinized and questioned.
HWT: Sequels to successful movies always cost more than the first. Is that the case with the second “Narnia”?
MJ: I cant comment on that but it’s a good assumption.
HWT:You produce movies at every budget level, mixing it up between intimate dramas and massive event films. What are you looking for in a project?
MJ: Primarily, it’s characters that interest me, followed by relationships. I’m usually less interested in the big, bombastic stuff than I am in the smaller, more intimate stuff. Look at movies I’ve done like “A Little Princess,” “Donnie Brasco,” “The Rookie” or for that matter “The Notebook.” They are all smaller, more intimate character relationship movies. I would maintain that “Narnia” is that movie. For me, the heart and soul of the movie is the relationships with the kids. If I had an underlying theme of my movies, I would say it’s family. All of those films have to do with families, families you are either born into, like “Avalon”, or families that you create like “A Little Princess.”