Tag Archives: Narnia

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‘The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe – LIVE!’ (Review)

Opening Night for this fabulous production took place just a few days ago on the 29th May in Kensington Gardens, London.   I actually went to see the very first preview performance on 8th May but have been embargoed on writing a review until after Press Night.  Since I saw it, the radio station I work for has taken a couple of parties of listeners and journalists to see the show and the reactions from everyone was ultra-positive.

I must admit to having some trepidation at seeing one of my favourite childhood books turned into a theatre production.   So much of the magic of C.S. Lewis’s classic children’s stories rely on the imagination.  How exactly were they going to create the journey into the magical world of Narnia in a big circular tent with no curtains to hide away scene changes?

The answer is – very cleverly.  Threesixty Theatre Productions wonderfully bring Narnia to life through a mix of acting,  puppetry(a la ‘War Horse) and projector animation that turns the entire theatre around you into the magical world.  The show happens in front of you, around you, above you and behind you.

Theatre productions start their run with a number of preview performances in front of live audiences while they iron out any problems in the production, iron out technical glitches and the Director and Producers get to see what works and what doesn’t and how the audience reacts and engages with the show.   The viewing I saw was the very first in front of members of the public and it was ropey to say the least.  Certain props malfunctioned, actors crossed over their lines with each other and the giant Lion Aslan (played by 3 puppeteers) had a technical breakdown when the pre-recorded voice over (played by actor David Suchet) stopped altogether at one point.  The Producer halted the action, they reset the audio and we were off and running again.   First time I’ve ever encountered something like that.

 

Despite these hitches, a good indicator for me as to how well the show would do once the glitches were are smoothed out was watching the reactions of the many kids who were in the audience.  Bearing in mind the show was around 40 minutes late starting, was 2.5 hours long (with interval) on a school night…yet it held their attention all the way through.

Subsequent shows we have taken people to see have been near perfect and any performance now that we are after Opening Night and the critics have all seen it will be stunning.   The reviews from the Critics has been superlative:

‘Rupert Goold’s adaptation is spectacular.’ Evening Standard

‘Dreamy, exciting and funny in equal measure.’ Tatler

**** ‘Had me as hooked as when I read the book aged 7.’ Times

‘Will have adults as well as children on the edge of their seats. Kids will be enthralled by the show’s energy and flair.’ Time Out

‘A magical setting: an elegant white circus tent in the lush green parkland next to Kensington Palace’ Independent

‘A magical space – it looks wonderful’ FT

“Aslan’s big moment was a show-stopper. A superb coup de theatre’” Guardian

‘A magnificent Aslan even gives War Horse a run for its money.’ Metro

‘What a magnificent Lion!’ Daily Mail

One of the key things I was looking out for in the production that would largely decide my verdict on it was how true it was to the plot and ethos of the book and the faith allegory intended by the author.   It did not disappoint.   A few variations and innovations but by and large true to the book and Narnia traditionalists need not fear.

On one of the performances we took our guests to, the show was filmed for promotional purposes and this is the trailer that Threesixty have made from the performance that night:

Click this to see the trailer.

All in all, a brilliant production well acted.  A deliciously evil White Witch, 4 perfectly selected Pevensie kids and a very cleaver working of Aslan including a scene which literally made the audience gasp wondering just how they did that.

For more info click here

 

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‘The Lion Awakes’: ‘meeting’ the Producer…

STOP PRESS!  Wernher Pramschufer, the Executive Producer of the movie, gives an exclusive interview to the radio station I work for which is being broadcast nationall in the UK today!   Listen to it here

 

As part of my job I have had the privilege to have worked with some film distributors and theatre promoters on a number of entertainment promotions we have run at the radio station.   We don’t do as many of these as I’d like, but then we are sensitive to the likes and dislikes of our audience and not everything would be suitable.  We’ve worked with the likes of Icon Films, Pathe, Disney, Walden Media and Twentieth Century Fox on the film side and in theatre with The Globe, the National Theatre, Royal Shakespeare Company and Stage Entertainment.  In all cases so far, I’ve really only got involved after the film has been produced and is ready for release and then only working with the distributors and promoters.   I’ve never had dealings with a movie in the early stages of production…until now.

I’ve written three posts already (see links below) that explain how I came into contact with an intriguing new project coming through and via the mysterious combination of this blog and social media managed to discover that a movie called ‘The Lion Awakes’ is about to go into production.   If all goes well, it’s due for global release in early 2013.  Again, I’ve written about the plot and storyline as I understand it in earlier posts.

My research into the film and who is behind it eventually lead me to make contact with the Executive Producer himself via Facebook.  From my office I emailed him.  A few minutes later my phone rang.   It was a long distance call from Australia and it was the guy.

We’ve spoken a couple of times now and are in almost daily email contact.  Each time I hear from him he updates me on a little more of their progress. Though I have worked on the promotion side of films before, it is not my sole area of expertise and in fact I still feel I hardly understand the industry at all.   All of a sudden I’m hearing this guy talking to me about Associate Producers, film Attorneys, screenplays, ‘kickstart’ campaigns… I’m in no position to make a call on whether this project is just a day-dream someone is trying to make happen or whether I will one day be sat in a cinema as the opening credits roll thinking back to writing these very words now.  However, the more this guy tells me about the film and the more names he throws into the conversations, the more I get a sense that this project has some momentum behind it.

There is so much already in place that appears to give it the legs to run the distance.  For a start, they have a winning subject matter – a biopic on the lives of two of the greatest authors in British literature – C S Lewis (The Chronicles of Narnia and more) and JRR Tolkien (The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings…).    They have an authentic screenplay co-written by two men who are leading experts on both the authors who are central to the story.   Not only that, but the script has been read and has the approval C.S. Lewis’ stepson, Douglas Gresham.  If that wasn’t enough, the script also has the eye of a former Head of BAFTA.

The Executive Producer guy explained that in order for a potential film to get noticed and funded, it needs to attract and engage a credible film Director and he is wanting an ‘A-Lister’. To do this, apparently, you need a top-notch Lawyer in the field.  One has been appointed – a chap called Paul Renney who filled a similar role that got some other obscure film project noticed: ‘The King’s Speech’.   Mr Renney is now on the case to find and appoint the Director and the Casting Director.  Oh, and on that point, among the ‘talent’ they are approaching for the role of ‘Jack’ Lewis is Jude Law and Perri Snowdon (pictured).    They are even looking further ahead at potential film distributors mentioning Momentum Pictures in the UK (who also distributed ‘The King’s Speech’ here) and the Weinstein Company for the international release (who have just handled ‘The Artist’).   As for whether the film has got its full funding yet remains unclear though for legal reasons the guy was not able to discuss that part of things yet, but he did say that they were making plans to start filming at Oxford University toward the Summer.

At the radio station, we’ve heavily promoted two of the adaptations of C S Lewis’ eternally popular ‘Chronicles of Narnia’ books: ‘Prince Caspian’ and ‘The Voyage of the Dawn Treader’.   Both Lewis and the Chronicles are immensely popular with our family audience.   Yesterday I posted up a teaser on our company Facebook page that drew one of the biggest recent reactions to a post.  As far as they are concerned, they think a new film out of one of the books is floating around.  They have no idea yet that this film will be about the man who created Narnia itself and not just him but about the great impact the creator of ‘Middle Earth’ had on him and the legacy their friendship has left that has touched millions and millions all over the world.

Our audience will only be in the dark a little while longer.  We have an exclusive interview with the Executive Producer lined up very soon and I shall leave him to spill the beans.

Related:

I have written a number of articles on the movie now. To find all related posts, please visit the Home page and scroll down to the ‘tag cloud’ on the right of screen and then click on ‘Narnia’.

 

 

 

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The Lion awoke: Narnia film company makes contact

I got some new insights to the movie-in-production (‘The Lion Awakes’).  I only discovered this project after wondering why people from America were finding my one and only post on the ‘Narnia’ movies that I sent online last November.

After I looked into it a little more, I discovered Jude Law was currently under consideration for one of the lead roles so I posted an update on that too.

So then a guy who knows one of the co-writers of the new movie got in touch via this blog to make me aware of interviews he had done with the movie’s writers.  You can listen to the interviews with them here and here.

In my post ‘The Lion Awakes’ I did question whether the movie would ever be destined for showing outside the US if it ever gets into production. On the film’s official Facebook page tonight they made a reassuring comment aimed at non-US followers that the film is being aimed at an international release.  It would be nice to think they had read my blog and taken my thoughts into consideration eh?  Wishful thinking….but then how did this guy who knows the scriptwriter pick up on my Blog?   That’s the wonder of social media I’m still discovering.  Anyway, I posted back to them on Facebook…and they messaged me to get in contact with them.

How very interesting.

STOP PRESS!  Wernher Pramschufer, the Executive Producer of the movie, gives an exclusive interview to the radio station I work for which is being broadcast nationall in the UK today!   Listen to it here

Related:

To find my other posts on the movie, please visit my Home page and the scroll down to the ‘tag cloud’ and click on ‘Narnia’

 

 

 

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‘The Lion Awakes’ – movie in production?

STOP PRESS!  Wernher Pramschufer, the Executive Producer of the movie, gives an exclusive interview to the radio station I work for which is being broadcast nationall in the UK today!   Listen to it here

I’ve been wondering why the rumoured end of the ‘Chronicles of Narnia’ movie franchise last November has suddenly gone to the top of the ‘most popular’ blogs read on this site and stayed there for a couple of weeks. As I’ve looked through the stats reports, it seems that this particular blog has been turning up in search engines when people are browsing for information on ‘Narnia’. How odd. Has there been an about turn that I don’t know about and the next Narnia film has actually gone into production? Well yes…and no. It looks like C.S. Lewis’ ‘Narnia’ and JRR Tolkien’s ‘Middle Earth’ are about to fuse together on a big screen near you in 2013. Possibly. Sort of….

‘The Lion Awakes’ is a new movie from Three Agree Studios that is going into production at the moment and is due for release sometime in 2013. Interesting that the internet movie database – IMDb – makes no mention of the film as at today’s date. My investigations as to why people were searching on’ Narnia’ and finding my blog led me back to the Narniafans.com website and there I got news of the new film. My excitement (being a fan of the books and movies) kind of died down at that point. If this film was coming into being then it may well be one the many that is made in America for America that may never see the light of day anywhere else. My interest was reawakened again today when the studio announced that they are currently in discussion with actor Jude Law for the role of C S Lewis. He’s no bit part actor  and film credits include The Talented Mr Ripley, Gattaca and The Holiday. Maybe they are lining up an international release for this one?

The film will be an historical drama based on real life about the friendship between two of the greatest writers of their genre in the English language – CS Lewis and JRR Tolkien. Set during World War 2 as Nazi bombs are falling on London, Lewis is miles away from danger at Oxford University where he is a Professor. A former atheist now turned to faith, Lewis is caught up in his own internal and intellectual war of exploring and defending his faith against marching, rampant Atheism in British society. Apart from his brother, it would appear that his close friend and fellow lecturer, Tolkien, became the most influential person in his life as he struggles between his childhood love of myth and his adult love of faith. With Britain facing its greatest hour of need, the BBC call up ‘Jack’ Lewis to make a radio broadcast to a desperate nation: will the British Lion of courage once more roar? The Lion – the key character that appears through all the Narnia stories that he would later create – was not yet fully formed in Lewis’ thinking as he battles his doubts with his faith. It is Tolkien who is key in forcing his friend to challenge his doubts and so eventually become one of the most influential authors on the Christian walk this country has ever produced.

Post-script:  I am now in direct and regular contact with the Executive Producer of the film and am closely following its progress.  I will post updates here as and when I have them and the media organisation I work for is also engaged with the film and I shall post links to all related contact on our website as and when they become available.

To find my other posts on the movie, please go to my Home page and type ‘Narnia’ into the search box or use the ‘tag cloud’.

 

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The end of the road for Narnia?

STOP PRESS!  Wernher Pramschufer, the Executive Producer of the movie, gives an exclusive interview to the radio station I work for which is being broadcast nationall in the UK today!   Listen to it here

If speculation on some Narnia fansites is true, then it looks like we may have seen the end of the Chronicles of Narnia books by C S Lewis being adapted for the big screen and that will be a great shame.

Around this time last year, I was managing one of the most fun projects I have ever handled as the radio station I work for was signed up by Fox to help in the promotion of the UK release of The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. A project that involved holding screenings for our listeners all over the country, interviews with the cast, broadcasting from the switching on of the Regent Street lights in London (all with a Narnia theme) and attending the Royal and World Premiere in Leicester Square attended by Queen Elizabeth and the cast and crew.   I will never forget stepping onto the red carpet on a bitterly cold November night with the square transformed into Narnia with real and fake snow, trees and magical characters.

It is not quite clear as to what has gone on to bring the curtain down on the films going into production. The last news I had heard before it popped into my head this morning to find out the latest, was that Walden Media and Fox were going into production with either ‘The Magician’s Nephew or The Silver Chair. It seems that for some reason the Lewis Estate, run by CS Lewis’ stepson Douglas Gresham has fallen out with Walden and Fox and production of any future film by those two has been put on ice indefinitely so to speak. Oh won’t the White Witch be ecstatic.  It seems that even if another studio picks up the franchise, it may be 6 years down the line before production can begin and that will mean recasting the character of ‘Eustace’ played brilliantly by Will Poulter in Dawn Treader unless they find the secret of eternal youth pretty darned quick.   Apart from the very first movie to be released and one of my all-time favouries, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, the later two movies failed to meet box office expectations. Narnia fans across the world were generally unhappy with the production of Prince Caspian but with Dawn Treader releasing in 3-D it was thought that Walden and Fox had upped their game. DT did beat Caspian at the box office but failed to overtake Lion/Witch.  Interestingly Disney, who handled distribution of the first film, dropped the franchise after it and so Fox stepped in.   I really enjoyed my time working with Fox on DT and thought they did a spectacular job of the release in the UK.

So, for whatever reason, it looks like the end of the road for Narnia on the big screen at least for now but possibly for good.  One thing that remains forever are the books and I hope that parents will introduce their kids to the world of Narnia for many years to come. What the books that introduced me to Narnia and Middle Earth did for me as a child and teenager was open my imagination and make me want to write one day.  My blog ain’t no masterpiece epic like those….but, hey….at least I’m writing.

In one final strange twist, it seems that fans of Narnia may not be left bereft after all this Christmas as strangely we will see on national television this year another very familiar character from completely different world enter the magic of the enchanted wood….

View the trailer here!  

Related posts: ‘The Lion Awakes’ – movie in production