Andrew Adamson didn't step lightly into making the first feature film of "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe," the initial book in writer C.S. Lewis' beloved "Chronicles of Narnia" fantasy series. Adamson had directed the blockbuster "Shrek" movies, but had never made a live-action movie before, not to mention one with a budget of $150 million.
Lewis' "Narnia" books have sold more than 95 million copies in 41 languages since "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" was published in 1950. Adamson knew the "Narnia" world well, having read and loved the books as a child. He also knew that the books' popularity guaranteed that interest in the movie would be high, bordering on rabid -- typical for fantasy novels.
What elevates "Narnia" above and beyond the usual fan-boy project is that, for millions of readers, Lewis' books contain powerful Christian themes of sacrifice and resurrection. In "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe," Aslan, the titular lion, sacrifices himself in place of one of the book's heroic children and is later resurrected, as powerful -- if not more so -- as he was before.
"When I read the books as a kid, I enjoyed them as pure adventure stories, but we certainly talked about how powerful they are for people of faith," Adamson says. "I feel comfortable that I've made a movie of the book. And if you found spiritual messages in the book, you'll probably find them here. If not, you won't. However you enjoyed the books, you'll enjoy the movie."
The dividing line isn't lost on Disney, which is distributing "Narnia" and partnered with Walden Media in financing the film. Disney has aggressively marketed the movie to evangelical Christian churches and organizations, using the same company -- Motive Marketing -- that Mel Gibson utilized in pushing "The Passion of the Christ."