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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 3: The Walden Touch

Extract

CHAPTER 3

The Walden Touch

The present chapter does not intend to discuss all Walden Media films, the list of which would by no means be exhaustive as the company was still operating at the time of writing. The purpose is simply to show how the discussed films give an idea of Walden productions as a whole and live up to Walden Media creators’ and patrons’ expectations, while being part and parcel of the Hollywood landscape.

Documentaries

The first Walden co-productions were not feature films but documentaries, as befits the company’s educational project. There was, for example, Pulse: A Stomp Odyssey (Luke Cresswell and Steve McNicholas, 2002), a forty-minute documentary that depicts the world of percussion groups on several continents. Walden also co-produced Ghosts of the Abyss (James Cameron, 2003) in which Titanic’s director1 decided to return to the site of the unfortunate wreck. The documentary cost James Cameron’s Earthship Productions, Walt Disney and Walden Media $13 million to produce, and was released in 3D and Imax formats by Buena Vista, Disney’s distribution arm. Ghosts of the Abyss opened in 97 cinemas on 13 April 2003 and ranked thirteenth at the box office. It eventually earned $17 million at ← 107 | 108 → home and $5 million abroad. Initially clocking about one hour, it was then extended to one hour and a half for its TV broadcast and DVD release, and was reissued as a 3D Blue-Ray disc in 2012. Walden Media carried on...

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