Narnia in Rosarito

Published 20 May 08 02:53 PM
New York Comic Con 2008: 'The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian' Cast and Crew
'The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian' producer Mark Johnson and three cast members showed up at the Con to answer some big questions about the future of Narnia.

By Ryan Stewart

The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian
The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian
Courtesy of Walt Disney
Is Disney really planning to film all of C.S. Lewis's Narnia books? That's a question that's been asked by fans and media pundits since well before the cinematic debut of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe in December 2005. After that first film went on to do nearly $300 million at the domestic box office, Disney greenlit two more installments, Prince Caspian and The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, but with the release of Caspian now weeks away, the question is being raised again. This past weekend, when producer Mark Johnson came to the Con to talk about Prince Caspian, he was prepared to give a comprehensive answer, the final sentence of which was pretty decisive. Here's his full statement: "As you know, we started with The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, not The Magician's Nephew and so once we established the four Pevensie children, the logical movie to do next is Prince Caspian because all four appear in it," he said. "Without giving a huge plot point, two of them are told they won't return to Narnia after Prince Caspian. In The Voyage of the Dawn Treader there are only two of the Pevensie kids and Caspian and Trumpkin. One of the beauties of the film franchise is that while it's all connected in terms of Narnia and Narnians, thematically it's not like other franchises in that it's not set in a specific place or set with the same characters every time, so the Narnia of Prince Caspian looks completely different from the Narnia of Lion/Witch. And The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, for those of you who haven't read it, takes place at sea and The Dawn Treader is a ship that goes from island to island where there are different adventures. It's hard to think much beyond that. There are seven books and with your support, if these films continue to do well artistically and commercially, then we'll keep making them. Right now we have no plans to go beyond The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, but if we continue to be successful I'd love to do The Silver Chair next after that."
On the subject of The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, which will be directed by respected helmer Michael Apted, Johnson had a lot to say, giving details about both the shooting schedule and locations being prepped. "We're going to start shooting Voyage of the Dawn Treader in October," he said excitedly, adding "it's scheduled for release in May 2010, two years from when Prince Caspian opens." He also said that Mexico is the chosen location for the bulk of the film, because of the water setting. "Two thirds of the movie we're going to shoot in Rosarito, Mexico, because they have a huge water tank there, which is where they shot Titanic and Master and Commander," he said. "We know we're going to shoot two-thirds there but when we start production, it could be back in New Zealand, it could be in Argentina, it could be other places. The tank is unlike any other in the world. Fox built it for Titanic and they were holding it for Jim Cameron, to maybe do another movie."
Ben Barnes in The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian
Ben Barnes in The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian
Courtesy of Walt Disney
Joining Johnson for the main hall presentation and the press junket were three of the principal actors for Prince Caspian: Ben Barnes, who plays the title character, an exiled King of Narnia, William Moseley, returning from the first film as boy hero Peter Pevensie and Peter Dinklage as Trumpkin, the red-Dwarf who is on the side of the good guys. Despite the presence of all these actors, there was very little talk of the film's actual story — that seemed to be a theme of the entire Con weekend, with The X-Files creators also being noticeably mum on actual details of their project — but English newcomer Ben Barnes did talk briefly about the rivalry between the lead characters of Caspian and how their relationship plays out in the film: "I think the rivalry in the story comes from a difference of opinion, a different value system, what each character thinks is the next best move in any given situation — it's not a conflict of character, necessarily. But it makes for more interesting anti-heroic characters, rather than these guys who always win. I think that keeps the tension all the way through the movie. You're never quite sure if the moves they're making are the right ones."
Moseley spoke about the tone and style of Caspian, which is known to be much grittier and heavier, dramatically speaking, than the first film. "Narnia is very, very different [this time around]," he said. "The first Narnia was very pastoral. It was kind of a fantasyland. This one we're about to see is much more raw, much more adult and I think a lot scarier as well. But I think its gonna be, in all, a much better film. A lot more adventure, which certainly I like." And how has his character changed from first film to second? "In the first one, Peter was the reluctant hero," he said. "In this one, he's the hero who really has no idea what he's doing. He's so set on his own ego, his own mind, his own stubbornness, that it really causes a humiliating act and here's an important lesson for everyone — put your ego out of the way and do what's best for the group. He doesn't and it's a really sad, sad moment and I think once he's learned that lesson he moves on as a character, as a person and he becomes the leader..." Moseley also noted that he "worked with an acting coach for three and a half months before the shoot because Andrew [Adamson] said 'We're going to completely change your character,' and I wanted to do the best job I possibly could."
Peter Dinklage spoke up in favor of the filmmakers' decision to change certain aspects of the book's story in order to make a great film that stands on its own merits. "I actually think the greatest film adaptations of books are very different from the books," he said. "I think when things are too faithful to the book, it's like, 'Why even make the movie? Why not just go read the book?' But what I like about this is that they do tweak things here and there and change things around a little bit. I think they expanded my character a bit." He also spoke of the dedication required of pulling off such a massive film shoot. "It was a nine-month shoot," he said. "Sometimes you go and do movies for a few weeks or a month and then you're out, you're on to the next thing and you're back to your own life. This becomes your life. Nine months is most of a year and so I saw these guys more than my wife. It just becomes your family."
Johnson also had something to say about the exhaustion that comes from the demanding pace of filming a movie like Prince Caspian. "Our last three reels are being worked on as we speak in London, so we really won't be finished until the end of next week," he said. "Shortly thereafter, these guys [the actors] will actually see it. I've produced a lot of movies over the years but I'd never done anything like The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, which I thought was the biggest movie I was ever going to do and then as soon as it came out and was a success the studio said 'Okay, where's the next one? Hurry up!' Andrew Adamson, who wrote and directed the first one and Prince Caspian also, called me up out of the blue and said, 'Do you really want to do another one of these?' We were so exhausted!"


# riqui said on June 17, 2008 12:15 PM:

It's the best news in a long time. rosarito is ready.


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