The Narnia blockbusters

Disney and Christian-backed Walden Media have released two films in The Chronicles of Narnia series since 2005. A third film, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, was released by 20th Century Fox in 2010. The films have been successful, grossing more than $1.5 billion worldwide, and have generated big debates.

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, the first film in the series, won an Oscar for makeup and was named the best spiritual film of 2006 by Beliefnet. It grossed almost $300 million in U.S. theaters and almost $750 million worldwide, and benefited from the kind of faith-based marketing strategies that earned The Passion of the Christ blockbuster status. It was the best-selling DVD in North America in 2006. And Narnia’s commercial success included spinoff toys, books, games and more.

The first three films in the series have also inspired debates about whether they are true to the religious sensibilities of the book’s author, Christian theologian C.S. Lewis – and whether all the commercialism surrounding them is appropriate.

 

October 3, 2005.

Background

Articles

International sources

  • Colin Duriez

    Colin Duriez of Keswick, England, is the author of numerous books on Lewis, including The C.S. Lewis Chronicles: The Indispensable Biography of the Creator of Narnia Full of Little-Known Facts, Events and Miscellany (Bluebridge, September 2005), A Field Guide to Narnia (InterVarsity Press, 2004), Tolkien and C.S. Lewis: The Gift of Friendship (Paulist Press, 2003) and The C. S. Lewis Encyclopedia: A Complete Guide to His Life, Thought and Writings (Crossway Books, 2000). Duriez says he looks forward to the film, hoping it will keep to the spirit of the book as Peter Jackson’s movies keep to the spirit of Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings.

  • Douglas Gresham

    Douglas Gresham of Dublin, Ireland, is Lewis’ stepson and a co-producer of the upcoming film. He wrote Jack’s Life: The Life Story of C.S. Lewis (Broadman & Holman, October 2005) and Lenten Lands: My Childhood With Joy Davidman and C.S. Lewis (HarperSanFrancisco, 1994). Gresham works full time for the C.S. Lewis Co. and, with his wife, Merrie, runs Rathvinden Ministries outside of Dublin.

  • Walter Hooper

    Walter Hooper, who lives in Oxford, England, was a secretary and companion to Lewis. Hooper is the literary adviser to the C.S. Lewis estate and one of the world’s leading authorities on Lewis. Hooper’s books include, as author, C.S. Lewis: A Complete Guide to His Life & Works (HarperSanFrancisco, 1998) and C.S. Lewis: A Companion and Guide (HarperCollins, 1996). He also has edited numerous anthologies of Lewis’ work.

  • Michael Ward

    Michael Ward is former president of the Oxford University C.S. Lewis Society; chaplain of Peterhouse, the oldest college at Cambridge University; and an important English authority on Narnia. Ward is former curator of Lewis’ home, and lectures and teaches widely on Lewis. His doctorate focused on Lewis’ theological imagination. Contact through his website.

National sources

  • C.S. Lewis Institute

    The C. S. Lewis Institute in Annandale, Va., was founded in 1976.

  • Ted Baehr

    Ted Baehr is founder and chairman of the Christian Film and Television Commission, a ministry that publishes Movieguide: The Family Guide to Movies and Entertainment, which advises Christians about popular culture offerings, including science fiction films.

  • Devin Brown

    Devin Brown is the author of Inside Prince Caspian: A Guide to Exploring the Return to Narnia (2008) and Inside Narnia: A Guide to Exploring The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and is an English professor at Asbury College in Wilmore, Ky. Read an interview with him about the Prince Caspian film at CBN.com.

    Contact: 859-858-3511 ext. 2499.
  • James Como

    James Como is a professor of rhetoric and public communication at York College of the City University of New York and is one of the foremost U.S. authorities on Lewis. Como wrote Branches to Heaven: The Geniuses of C. S. Lewis (Spence Publishing, 1998) and edited Remembering C.S. Lewis: Recollection of Those Who Knew Him (Ignatius Press, forthcoming fall 2005). He is a founder of the New York C.S. Lewis Society.

  • Bruce Edwards

    Bruce Edwards is professor of English at Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio, and specializes in Lewis. His books on Lewis include Not a Tame Lion: The Spiritual World of Narnia (Tyndale, September 2005) and Further Up and Further In: Understanding C.S. Lewis’ The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (Broadman and Holman, September 2005). Edwards maintains the C.S. Lewis & Inklings web site.

  • Paul Ford

    Paul Ford, a professor of systematic theology and liturgy at St. John’s Seminary in Camarillo, Calif., is an internationally recognized authority on Lewis. Ford is author of Companion to Narnia: A Complete Guide to the Magical World of C.S. Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia (HarperSanFrancisco July 2005). He founded the Southern California C. S. Lewis Society.

  • Marjorie Lamp Mead

    Marjorie Lamp Mead is the associate director of the Marion E. Wade Center, Wheaton College, Illinois. She co-authored A Reader’s Guide Through the Wardrobe: Exploring C.S. Lewis’s Classic Story (InterVarsity Press, September 2005) and co-edited C. S. Lewis: Letters to Children (Simon & Schuster, 1998). Mead is managing editor of Seven: An Anglo-American Literary Review.

  • Barbara Nicolosi

    Barbara Nicolosi is an American screenwriter and founder/executive director of Act One, a firm that works with Christians in Hollywood.

  • Gary Olsen

    The Rev. Gary Olsen of Rolling Hills Community Church of Lago Vista, Texas, taught a workshop called “Crowning ‘Prince Caspian’: An Evangelism and Discipleship Growth Opportunity” for clergy and lay people. It was sponsored by the Richard and Julia Wilke Institute for Discipleship.

    Contact: 512-267-2942.
  • Peter J. Schakel

    Peter J. Schakel is a professor of English at Hope College in Holland, Mich., and specializes in Lewis. Schakel’s books on Lewis include, as author, The Way Into Narnia: A Reader’s Guide (Eerdmans, July 2005) and Imagination and the Arts in C. S. Lewis: Journeying to Narnia and Other Worlds (University of Missouri Press, 2002).

  • Rick Warren

    Rick Warren is pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., and author of the best-seller The Purpose Driven Life: What on Earth Am I Here For?  He calls prosperity gospel teachings wrong, and he has taken evangelicals to task for not giving enough care and money to the poor and underprivileged. Warren said in 2005 that he was living on 10 percent of his income and giving away 90 percent.

    Warren lectured at the C.S. Lewis Institute in Oxford and Cambridge, England, in summer 2005. He says C.S. Lewis is the most quoted author in The Purpose-Driven Life.

    Contact: 949-609-8651.

Regional sources

In the Northeast

  • David C. Downing

    David C. Downing is the R.W. Schlosser Professor of English at Elizabethtown College in Lancaster County, Pa., and the author of four books on C.S. Lewis, including Into the Wardrobe: C.S. Lewis & the Narnia Chronicles (Jossey Bass, 2005) and Into the Region of Awe: Mysticism in C.S. Lewis (Intervarsity Press, 2005).

  • Peter J. Kreeft

    Peter J. Kreeft is a professor of philosophy at Boston College who specializes in Lewis and has written frequently about him. Kreeft’s books include C.S. Lewis for the Third Millennium (Ignatius Press, 1994).

  • New York C.S. Lewis Society

    The New York C.S. Lewis Society was founded in 1969 and is the world’s oldest society for the appreciation and discussion of Lewis.

In the South

  • Devin Brown

    Devin Brown is the author of Inside Prince Caspian: A Guide to Exploring the Return to Narnia (2008) and Inside Narnia: A Guide to Exploring The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and is an English professor at Asbury College in Wilmore, Ky. Read an interview with him about the Prince Caspian film at CBN.com.

    Contact: 859-858-3511 ext. 2499.
  • C.S. Lewis & Inklings Society

    The C.S. Lewis & Inklings Society is based at Oklahoma City University. Dr. Salwa Khoddam is president.

  • Joe R. Christopher

    Joe R. Christopher is professor emeritus of English at Tarleton State University in Stephenville, Texas, and the author of C.S. Lewis (Twayne Publishers, 1987) and co-author of C. S. Lewis: An Annotated Checklist of Writings About Him and His Works (Kent State University Press, 1974).

  • Salwa Khoddam

    Salwa Khoddam, a professor of English at Oklahoma City University, is a past president and founder of the C.S. Lewis & Inklings Society. She has published several articles about The Chronicles of Narnia and wrote a book about Lewis’ use, in his fiction, of verbal images that point to the divine.

  • Don King

    Don King is a professor of English at Montreat College in Montreat, N.C., who specializes in Lewis. He is the author of C. S. Lewis, Poet: The Legacy of His Poetic Impulse (Kent State University Press, 2001). King edits the Christian Scholar’s Review.

  • Wesley A. Kort

    Wesley A. Kort is a religion professor at Duke University in Durham, N.C., who wrote C.S. Lewis: Then and Now (Oxford University Press, 2001).

  • Sara McLaughlin

    Sara McLaughlin, a lecturer in rhetoric and composition at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, is the author of Meeting God in the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe: Classic Themes in C.S. Lewis’s Book (Pleasant Word, July 2005).

  • Memphis C.S. Lewis Society

    The Memphis (Tenn.) C.S. Lewis Society was formed in 1996. Contact through the website.

  • Jerry Walls

    Jerry Walls, philosophy of religion professor at Houston Baptist University, has written about making sense of evil and Christian conceptions of God. He is co-editor of The Chronicles of Narnia and Philosophy (Open Court Press) and co-author of C.S. Lewis & Francis Schaeffer: Lessons for a New Century From the Most Influential Apologists (InterVarsity Press, 1998).

  • Will Vaus

    Will Vaus of Monterey, Va., is the author of Mere Theology: A Guide to the Thought of C.S. Lewis (InterVarsity Press, 2004). He led a Narnia retreat Oct. 21-25, 2005. Vaus is the president of Will Vaus Ministries.

In the Midwest

  • Alan Jacobs

    Alan Jacobs is an English professor at Wheaton College in Illinois. An evangelical Christian, he wrote about how Harry Potter’s magic fits with faith in an essay in First Things. He is the author The Narnian: the Life and Imagination of C.S. Lewis (HarperCollins, 2005).

  • Marvin D. Hinten

    Marvin D. Hinten is an English professor at Friends University in Wichita, Kan., and the author of The Keys to the Chronicles: Unlocking the Symbols of C.S. Lewis’s Narnia (Broadman & Holman, October 2005).

  • Wayne Martindale

    Wayne Martindale, an English professor at Wheaton College, is author of Beyond the Shadowlands: C.S. Lewis on Heaven and Hell (Crossway, 2005) and co-editor of The Quotable Lewis (Tyndale House, 1990).

  • Gilbert Meilaender

    Gilbert Meilaender is the chairman in Christian ethics at Valparaiso University in Valparaiso, Ind., and a professor of philosophy. He is the author of Bioethics: A Primer for Christians (Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2004) and The Taste for the Other: The Social and Ethical Thought of C.S. Lewis (Eerdmans, 1998).

  • Jerry Root

    Jerry Root, associate professor of Christian education at Wheaton College in Wheaton, Ill., co-edited The Quotable C.S. Lewis (Tyndale House, 1990). Root’s master’s and doctoral dissertations were on Lewis, on whom he’s taught courses for 25 years.

In the West

  • J. Stanley Mattson

    J. Stanley Mattson is founder and president of the C.S. Lewis Foundation in Redlands, Calif.

    Contact: 909-793-0949.
  • Robert Millet

    Robert Millet is a professor of ancient scriptures at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. He helped organize a 2004 gathering of evangelicals and Mormons in Salt Lake City that included Richard Mouw and Ravi Zacharias and has frequently engaged in Mormon-evangelical dialogue. Millet co-edited C.S. Lewis, The Man and His Message: A Latter-Day Saint Perspective. He says Lewis is one of the most admired, respected and quoted Christian writers in Latter-day Saint literature, and Lewis’ prose, fiction and ability to teach difficult Christian doctrines and principles are without parallel.

  • John G. West

    John G. West is a vice-president and senior fellow at Discovery Institute in Seattle and author of Darwin Day in America: How Our Politics and Culture Have Been Dehumanized in the Name of Science. He contributed an opinion piece about the Louisiana Science Education Act to the National Review. He has a special interest in C.S. Lewis and co-edited The C.S. Lewis Readers’ Encyclopedia.

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