Christian Opposition May Mean No Sequel for The Golden Compass

by Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
Staff Writer

Strong opposition by the faithful to the anti-Catholic film, The Golden Compass, may have damaged plans for two sequels.

According to author and professed atheist, Phillip Pullman, whose trilogy of books formed the basis for what might have been a series of movies, Christian opposition kept audience numbers low and ultimately rendered the much-hyped film into a box office disappointment. 

Speaking to The DailyTelegraph, Pullman said of the Christian response: “I’ve no doubt it did influence a number of people not to go to see it.”

Mr Pullman admitted that he is unsure whether the planned sequels will now go ahead.

The premise of Pullman’s novels, which are said to be more popular than Harry Potter in England, involve a central organization modeled after the Catholic Church that has lost its way and become a misguided overlord of the people.

Pullman, who openly admits his children’s books are about undermining Christianity and “killing God,” was said to be at odds with director Chris Weitz (American Pie) because of the way Weitz tried to make the film less incendiary to the Church and organized religion in general.

Speaking about the film’s less-than-stellar performance at the box office, David Mumpower wrote for Box Office Prophets: “The problem is that not all respected novels are adapted into popular movies. In the case of The Golden Compass, this would be an understatement. Production was a struggle from the start.”

Not only did Pullman and Weitz disagree, but the film’s two stars, Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig had just completed the disastrous film, The Invasion, which cost $100 million and earned only $15 million before evaporating at the box office.

However, hopes were high as The Golden Compass neared completion and began receiving much media hype in the U.S.  The first teasers contained all of the award winning aspects of storytelling that made Disney’s The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe a smashing success.

“There were the exotic locations, lavish set designs, and an adorable kid highlighted. But North American movie-going audiences are a mercurial bunch,” Mumpower wrote. “For whatever reason, response was tepid. Later trailers and clips from the movie merited similarly icy reception.”

By the time the film was released in early December, 2007, word was out about its anti-Christian content and sparked a wave of protest from Christian organizations. As a result the film, which cost $180 million to produce, made only $70 million in the lucrative U.S. market with 80 percent of its overall profits coming from overseas markets.

Christians who raised their voices against the promulgation of this film appear to have doomed not only the original film, but may have also made future sequels unlikely.

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