Blockbusted? Ask William Moseley’s Fans
As The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe heads into its second month of release, the $100+ million question remains unanswered: has a franchise been spawned? The very fact that the issue remains open after four weeks puts a positive answer in doubt. But how can that possibly be, with domestic boxoffice grosses topping $230 million?
First, the success of a film is not measured by pure boxoffice, but by return on investment. While Walden Media’s adaptation of the first book in The Chronicles of Narnia was officially bugeted at $210 million (including prints and advertising costs), actual costs have likely exceeded $250 million. From that standpoint, domestic boxoffice has yet to recoup the initial investment, much less yield a profit.
Second, the film’s international boxoffice isn’t tracking with blockbuster-like performance. While runaway hits like the Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter films (and even disappointments like King Kong) typically gross twice the amount internationally as they do in the US, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is struggling to maintain a one-to-one ratio. So while the Narnia film’s first twenty-eight days in the US track very well in comparison with The Fellowship of the Ring (each at about $230 million), the implications of these domestic/international ratios are huge: Fellowship’s global take was roughly $900 million ($300 million of that in the US) while the Narnia film likely will gross less than $600 million internationally, with under $300 million of that total in the US. $600 million in profit (200%) would be enough to make a whole host of suits happy, and give a director final cut. A mere 100% profit ($300 million), by comparison, is only encouraging.
But how much profit is needed to warrant a sequel? We often forget that every film is a financial risk, and that there are no guaranteed returns—particularly when it comes to sequels. The Lord of the Rings franchise was the rare case in which boxoffice receipts actually climbed with each installment; and even the Harry Potter movies are anomalous in sustaining audience interest as the series has progressed. Remember how the Superman and orginal Batman franchises—even Star Wars, in its final throes—deteriorated? So given that another $200+ million would be necessary to produce and market the proposed Prince Caspian, this would consume the lion’s share of the boxoffice profits from the first film—leaving merchandising rights and video sales as the only real source of profit for the film’s producers.
Ultimately, that’s got to be pretty disappointing to Disney, considering the boxoffice potential for Andrew Adamson’s third directorial feature. Profit margins on both Shrek and Shrek 2 were much higher. Lion King-type figures are not in the cards.
Does that mean Prince Caspian is dead?
Not at all. Even before The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe debuted, the studios were talking to Adamson and his child stars about returning for Prince Caspian, and in the last couple of weeks rumors—but rumors only—have surfaced that deals have now in fact been inked, and the project greenlighted.
These rumors are likely true.
Disney, we must remember, is not at the helm of this franchise. Walden Media is, and their business model is markedly different from that of a major mainstream studio like Disney. Walden is also backed by Philip Anchutz, a billionaire with a cultural agenda. And the objectives of Anchtuz and Walden Media have largely been met. Adamson delivered a film that educators, pastors, librarians and booksellers love. It’s turned a profit, and has spawned additional millions in book sales.
What’s more, it has captured the fancy of schoolgirls, thanks to the performance of William Mosely as Peter Pevensie.
By far, the most vocal response to this film that Hollywood Jesus has received has come from girls aged eight to sixteen. The last time I saw anything like this was in 2003, with the release of another Walden Media film: Holes. Hollywood Jesus was indundated at that time by hosts of young girls raving about Khleo Thomas, wanting to congratulate Khleo Thomas, telling Khleo that they, too, wanted someday to be an actor—maybe even marry him.
The same is now happening with young fans of William Mosely. One girl, for example, publicly posted the following:
Hey! I do know that this isn't like speaking directly to William, but what the hey. I'm Allie, I’m 14, I am an amazing singer, and I absolutely loved Chronicles of Narnia. I hadn't read the books yet (that's really weird because I am literally a book nerd) but I have now that I saw the movie. I want to give props to the director because that was the best flippin’ movie I've seen in a long time. You, Anna, and the rest were all amazing. It sounds like Peter's character wasn't like yours at all which must've been hard. The movie matched up perfectly with the book whereas [with] movies like the Harry Potter series the books were good but the movies left too much out. But you guys did a realy nice job. The fact that you are the cutest guy I've ever seen probably doesn't hurt either.Others, like fangirl Nancy Lok, were a little less restrained, if archly articulate: “Wow, I just saw Narnia yesterday and it was so awesome! William Mosely is so hot and cute. Nay, BEYOND hot and cute.” But the following comment from “babyangel” had to be my favorite:
hi william. u prolly don check this but 2 all the others out there, i wtched narnia 4 times in 1 day yestrday JUST bcos of william... before i used 2 b absolutely OBSESSED wid tom felton, but when i saw narnia 4 da 2nd time nd saw "the actor who plays peter", i just dropped 2 da floor and started cryin nd beggin 4 mrcy :P and 2 mr moseley, u are i absolutely HOT guy, da httst ive seen... 2 bad hez 2 old, nw my cuzinz tryin 2 make me change my mind jus bcoz SHE fell in luv wif him, makin the xcuse that hez 2 old 4 me! hmph! if any1 knoz, or has a sngle CLUE as 2 wether mr moseley has a grlfrnd (which i doubt he DUZENT, being da hottie he is :P ) PLEASE mail me...So critics and purists may be less than enthralled with The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe; and Aslan may not be Disney’s next boxoffice lion king—but Walden Media has scored a direct hit with its target audience. With some fiscal restraint and a little non-CGI creativity, Prince Caspian may yet see the cinematic light of day.
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