Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Pullman backs off God killing and New Line hopes on Compass?

Entertainment: What is interesting about this other than New Line hoping for a new mega franchise is the companies lining up to promote it. When people get a hold of this as the advertisments ramp up, all these companies are going to be caught in the cross fire.

After winning big on the potentially risky "Lord of the Rings" franchise, New Line is betting yet again on a pricey fantasy book series, "His Dark Materials," with the first pic "The Golden Compass" set to bow Dec. 7.

New Line faces a more daunting marketing challenge this time around, even with Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig on the marquee, because the "Dark Materials" series lacks the classic-lit pedigree and worldwide recognition of the "Rings" series.

To aid its cause, studio has enlisted a bevy of blue-chip brands which are committing more than $50 million in marketing and promo support for "Compass."

Studio also is devoting significant coin of its own to introduce U.S. moviegoers to author Philip Pullman's fantasy world, in which talking animals serve as the souls of humans and armored polar bears fight wars. The $150 million "Compass" is planned as the first of a trilogy.

Brand partners set to tubthump for the pic's opening next month include Coca-Cola Co., Burger King, Wal-Mart, Target, Sega, the World Wildlife Fund, Borders, Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Best Buy, Emusic, FAO Schwarz, Corgi Intl., Toys R Us, Trans World Entertainment, Circuit City, Marie Claire and Scholastic.

Planned promo push by outside marketers surpasses what "The Lord of the Rings" franchise had backing it. Total value of brand-backed marketing is $120 million, studio estimates.

"It's definitely the most important property we've had since 'Lord of the Rings,'" said Rolf Mittweg, New Line's prexy and chief operating officer of worldwide distribution and marketing. "We'll be spending accordingly."

But as New York Magazine points out the entire series is basically a big fuck you to Christians and God. It seems Pullman realizes that is not a good way to sell a movie and ratchets down the meaning on purpose.

Philip Pullman seems, perhaps wisely, to be backtracking a little bit on the whole atheism front. On the Today show on Friday, Pullman denied to Al Roker that his books are anti-religious. "As for the atheism," he adds, "it doesn’t matter to me whether people believe in God or not, so I’m not promoting anything of that sort," he wrote in response to a question from "Kim, Friday Harbor, Wash." But what did the author have to say on the issue six years ago, when asked by the Washington Post what famously Christian author C.S. Lewis would think of his books?

"I'm trying to undermine the basis of Christian belief," says Pullman. "Mr. Lewis would think I was doing the Devil's work."

And what did he tell the Sydney Morning Herald in 2003?

"I'm a great fan of J.K. Rowling, but the people - mainly from America's Bible Belt - who complain that Harry Potter promotes Satanism or witchcraft obviously haven't got enough in their lives. Meanwhile, I've been flying under the radar, saying things that are far more subversive than anything poor old Harry has said. My books are about killing God."

Boy, that's a change! Not that we object to Pullman's previous Devil's work; after all, we love the books, and in the battle of Hollywood vs. Christmas, we're going with Christmas. But it's a little curious that Pullman is suddenly out there backpedaling, just a month before New Line releases the first film in a megamillion-dollar fantasy trilogy based on Pullman's books, huh? We wonder who at the studio was given the unenviable task of calling Pullman and being, like, "Could you maybe cool it with the God-killing?"


The whole interview from the Today show here.

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