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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 5: Exporting Walden Media Films



Exporting Walden Media Films

The 1920s industrialization of American cinema went hand in hand with the conquest of foreign markets. American films were notably more present in Europe after the First World War, when the slowly recovering European film industries could not, for some time, satisfy local demand for new features. But US films were there to stay and this was reinforced after the Second World War by the fact that American federal authorities, strongly lobbied by the powerful MPEA (Motion Picture Export Association), included films in negotiations with various European authorities – as was the case with the French-American Blum–Byrnes agreements in 1946.1 For American studios, the world therefore became a market likely to gross increasing profits in the aftermath of a world conflict that had left local film industries in an even more dilapidated state than after the First World War. The subsequent conquest of global screens by American cinema, denounced by some as part of American cultural imperialism,2 resulted from the combination of several factors.

First, there was an important backlog of American films3 that had not been distributed in occupied Europe and other war-torn markets, and that studios now wanted to release there in order to get the profits they felt entitled to. Secondly, those films conquered foreign screens because ← 205 | 206 → they were intended for mass entertainment and therefore often featured easily understandable stories any audience could grasp, even if here and there subsisted problems with...

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