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Between Hollywood and Godlywood

The Case of Walden Media

Nathalie Dupont

This book sheds new light on the relationship between conservative Christianity and Hollywood through a case study of Walden Media, which produced The Chronicles of Narnia franchise. Financed by a conservative Christian, Walden Media is a unique American company producing educational and family-friendly films with inspiring, moral, redemptive and uplifting stories. However, there is more to Walden than meets the eye and the company reflects wider trends within contemporary American society. Drawing on film industry data, film study guides and marketing campaigns targeting mainstream and conservative Christian audiences in the United States and abroad, this book reflects on Walden Media’s first ten years of activity as well as on the relationship between Hollywood and conservative Christians, notably evangelicals, at the dawn of the twenty-first century. Though both worlds are still wary of one another, this study shows that Walden Media films, and particularly The Chronicles of Narnia franchise, have tread a workable path between Hollywood and «Godlywood», albeit within the constraints of the now global film business.
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Chapter 2: Walden Media and Hollywood

Extract

CHAPTER 2

Walden Media and Hollywood

Walden Media is the brainchild of Michael Flaherty and Cary Granat. The men were roommates at Tufts University, before going their separate ways. A few years later, their doubts, discussions and questioning led them to create a new film production company backed by a billionaire who shared their views. The present chapter does not intend to detail all of Walden Media’s ups and downs nor does it dwell on its productions, as the subject will be discussed in the next chapter. The purpose is simply to show how this company came to be, what kind of films it wanted to produce and how it has fared over ten years in the competitive Hollywood arena.

A few Hollywood facts

When the idea for Walden Media began to take shape at the end of the twentieth century, Hollywood was quite different from what it used to be before and just after the Second World War.

The core youth audience

In the 1970s, the 12- to 24-year-old age group notably became the main target of studios for several reasons. These young people were behind the success of Jaws (Steven Spielberg, 1975), Star Wars (George Lucas, 1977) and other blockbusters that allowed studios to win market shares every ← 61 | 62 → year. Since then, young people have consequently made up the bulk of American cinema audiences as shown by Figure 1.



Figure 1:...

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