Narnia Film to Theaters in 2004

Plus: Billy Graham gets knighted and other stories.

Let the countdown begin
We're only a week and a half away from the first Lord of the Rings movie, but the hype machine cranks up today for another Inkling's film, due out in 2004: C.S. Lewis's The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe. Walden Media, a relatively new film studio (born in May) that aims at "marrying popular entertainment and education" will produce it (and hopes to produce the other Narnia stories too), but the real money behind it comes from Christian billionaire Philip Anschutz. The 16th richest American (according to Forbes) owns Walden, one-fifth of America's movie screens, and a lot more. According to a September 1999 Fortune article, Anschutz was "working deliberately and diligently" to do "something significant in American Christianity." Is this it?

"We have been relentlessly pursuing this project since the formation of Walden Media in May," Walden Media head Cary Granat (who used to run Disney-owned Dimension Films) tells Variety. "We were very fortunate in that the C.S. Lewis Co. saw eye-to-eye with us on exactly how to make this film." Speaking of the C.S. Lewis Company, Douglas Gresham will oversee the film's creation. "It has been our dream for many years not simply to make a live-action version of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, but to do so while remaining faithful to the novel," Lewis's stepson tells The Hollywood Reporter. "We are delighted to make this film with Walden Media, which we are confident will create the adaptation that my stepfather would have wanted."

Those following the recent Lewis conspiracy theories will be interested in this note in the Variety story: "HarperCollins retains publishing rights to the collection and had no involvement in the film pact."

Billy Graham becomes an ...

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April
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