December has been a great month for high fantasy over the last couple of years. The Chronicles of Narnia, while not great, wasn't a disappointment. And The Lord of the Rings trilogy, of course, made December a month to pine after in the early part of this decade. The Harry Potter films have been pretty good (some released in November).
Now we have The Golden Compass, a film that's garnering it's fair share of criticism from religious groups calling it a "stealth atheism campaign." The film looks stunning and is being released by New Line Cinema (same house as LOTR). I have to say this looks excellent! Take a look at the first five minutes and let me know what you think. It definitely has the same feel as Jackson's pictures.
It will be interesting to see if the same groups that made The Passion of the Christ such a phenomenal success will doom this one to failure. The Passion was unique in that mega-churches and religious organizations rented whole movie houses. Many saw the film three or four times while it was in the theater. If there is a backlash, and I've heard the Christian talk shows have been calling for a boycott for a month or more, it'll be a real shame for what has proven to be a magical series of books for children.
I think there will be audiences that stay away, but the negative discussion will catalyze folks like myself, that might not have looked at the film otherwise, to go and take a look. Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig work together again on this one (they made the critically panned Invasion earlier in the year), and I now have high hopes for it.
I think, like the books that get banned in the libraries, The Golden Compass will have enough controversy-based interest to make up for the lack of patronage by the conservative religious audience.
Will you folks take a look?