There have been casting and effects rumors floating around the live action adaptation of C.S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia for a little while now, but now that things are firming up the powers that be have shipped out a detailed press release with all the gritty details. And, yes, they were even kind enough to send us a copy. Read on to find out everything there is to know about who’s doing what …
‘THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA: THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE’ BEGINS FILMING; ‘SHREK’s’ ANDREW ADAMSON DIRECTS BELOVED C.S. LEWIS BOOK IN HIS NATIVE NEW ZEALAND
Rupert Everett, Jim Broadbent, Ray Winstone, Dawn French join Tilda Swinton and James McAvoy in a stellar cast
Magical visual effects partnerships with Rhythm & Hues and Sony Imageworks
BURBANK, CA, July 26, 2004 — “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe,” a spectacular live-action/CGI motion picture adaptation of C.S. Lewis’ beloved literary classic, began principal photography on location in Auckland, New Zealand, on June 28, 2004. The production, a joint venture between the Walt Disney Studios and Walden Media, is the first live-action adaptation of Lewis’ book for the motion picture screen, and represents one of the biggest undertakings ever mounted by both companies.
The film marks the first live-action directorial effort for New Zealander Andrew Adamson (the Oscar(r)-winning “Shrek,” “Shrek 2”), who also co-wrote the screenplay adaptation with Emmy Award-winner Anne Peacock (HBO’s “A Lesson Before Dying”) and scribes Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely (HBO’s “The Life and Death of Peter Sellers”). The film is produced by Academy Award(r)-winning filmmaker Mark Johnson (“Rain Man,” “Bugsy,” “A Little Princess,” “The Notebook”) and is slated for a global release in December, 2005, through the Walt Disney Studios distribution division of Buena Vista Releasing.
Already in the planning and preproduction stages for two years, the project’s towering production schedule of eighteen months encompasses a six-month live-action shoot followed by a yearlong post-production schedule leading to its December, 2005, worldwide release. To bring his dazzling vision to the screen, Adamson has secured the talents of Oscar-nominated cinematographer Donald McAlpine, A.S.C., A.C.S (“Moulin Rouge,” “Peter Pan”), Oscar(r)-nominated production designer Roger Ford (“Babe,” “Peter Pan”), seasoned costume designer Isis Mussenden (“Shrek,” “Shrek 2,” “Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights”), film editors Sim Evan-Jones (“Shrek”) and Jim May (“Van Helsing”) and composer Harry Gregson-Williams (“Shrek,” “Shrek 2,” “Antz”). Industry veteran Philip Steuer (“The Alamo,” “The Rookie”) joins director Adamson as the film’s executive producer.
Inspired by Lewis’ imaginative creations, the story’s human cast will be complemented by a gallery of original and wondrous characters and creatures portrayed onscreen in the combined efforts of live-action and CGI animation under the supervision of visual effects supervisor Dean Wright (“The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King”) and VFX producer Randy Starr. They will collaborate with the movie magicians at two of Hollywood’s VFX giants: Sony Imageworks (“Spider-Man 2”) and Rhythm & Hues (the Academy Award(r)-winning “Babe”), whose dazzling array of computer-generated effects will breed such creatures as the mighty lion king, Aslan; Mr. and Mrs. Beaver, the kindly mammals who accompany the children on their journey; Maugrim, the savage gray wolf who serves as the White Witch’s henchman; and a host of other beasts including minotaurs, centaurs, cyclops, and broods of others not before seen on the motion picture screen.
The film’s creative team also includes four-time Academy Award(r)-winning visualist Richard Taylor (“Lord of the Rings” trilogy, “Heavenly Creatures”) and the wizards from his Weta Workshop, a collective group of artists based in New Zealand who designed and created the visual and makeup effects for all three chapters of Jackson’s landmark movie trilogy. Taylor’s team (who designed the film’s armour and weaponry, with early creature concepts) will team up with veteran movie makeup magicians Howard Berger and Greg Nicotero, partners in the award-winning company of KNB EFX Group, who will manufacture and apply hundreds of special makeup prosthetics for all of the unique and unusual characters in the story.
Acclaimed cast drawn from both international and local New Zealand talent
Starring in the film is acclaimed, award-winning actress Tilda Swinton (“The Deep End,” “Orlando,” “Constantine”) as Jadis, the powerful, evil White Witch. Joining Swinton as the Pevensie children are screen newcomer Georgie Henley as Lucy, the youngest of the quartet and the first to enter the portal to the magical land of Narnia; Skandar Keynes as Edmund, the younger boy who follows Lucy into Narnia, only to fall under the bewitching spell of the White Witch; seasoned British actress Anna Popplewell (“The Girl with A Pearl Earring,” “Mansfield Park”) as Susan, the cautious and practical older sister skeptical about entering the kingdom of Narnia; and, in his motion picture debut, William Moseley (“Goodbye, Mr. Chips”) as Peter, the eldest of the siblings whom the others look to for leadership during their adventurous journey.
Co-starring in the film are Scottish actor James McAvoy (HBO’s “Band of Brothers,” “Wimbledon”) as Mr. Tumnus, the kindhearted faun (half-man, half-goat) who risks his own fate to ensure Lucy’s safety in Narnia; diminutive British talent Kiran Shah (“Lord of the Rings,” “Raiders of the Lost Ark”) who portrays Ginarrbrik, the White Witch’s dwarfish sleigh driver; Best Supporting Actor Oscar winner Jim Broadbent (“Iris,” “Moulin Rouge!,” “Gangs of New York,” “Topsy-Turvy”), who appears as Prof. Kirke, whose lavish country home houses the magical wardrobe; and veteran Scottish performer James Cosmo (“Troy,” “Braveheart”) as Father Christmas.
Adamson has also cast several Kiwi performers to portray a variety of human and Narnian creatures in the film, including Judy McIntosh (“Arriving Tuesday,” Ngati”) as the matriarch of the Pevensie family; Elizabeth Hawthorne (“The Frighteners,” “The Tommyknockers”) as Mrs. MacReady, the caretaker of the mansion; Patrick Kake (“Hercules: The Legendary Journeys”) as Oreius, Aslan’s head Centaur; and Shane Rangi (“Lord of the Rings”) as Gen. Otman, the fierce Minotaur and leader of the White Witch’s army.
To bring the story’s magically computer-animated creations to life, Adamson has cast a host of acclaimed performers to lend their vocal talents to the film, including Ray Winstone (“Sexy Beast,” “King Arthur”) as Mr. Beaver; Rupert Everett (“The Madness of King George,” “My Best Friend’s Wedding,” “Shrek 2”) as The Fox, another ally of the children; and veteran British comedienne Dawn French (“The Adventures of Pinocchio,” “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban,” BBC’s “The Vicar of Dibley”) as Mrs. Beaver. Additional casting announcements are forthcoming, including that of Aslan the Lion.
An enchanting, timeless adventure
Lewis’ timeless adventure follows the exploits of the four Pevensie siblings — Lucy, Edmund, Susan and Peter — in World War II England who enter the world of Narnia through a magical wardrobe while playing a game of ‘hide-and-seek’ in the rural country home of an elderly professor. Once there, the children discover a charming, peaceful land inhabited by talking beasts, dwarfs, fauns, centaurs and giants that has become a world cursed to eternal winter by the evil White Witch, Jadis. Under the guidance of a noble and mystical ruler, the lion Aslan, the children fight to overcome the White Witch’s powerful hold over Narnia in a spectacular, climactic battle that will free Narnia from Jadis’ icy spell forever.
“The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” is the first (appearing in 1950) of Lewis’ seven-book “Chronicles of Narnia” series, long regarded as one of literature’s most enduring and imaginative classics. Since its publication between 1950-56, Lewis’ “Chronicles of Narnia” series, with a long and loyal following, has sold over 85,000,000 books in 29 different languages, making it the second biggest book series (after J.K. Rowling’s “Harry Potter” tomes) the world over. In addition to the first novel, Lewis wrote six additional books, with one published annually between 1951-56. Those titles include “Prince Caspian,” “The Voyage of the ‘Dawn Treader’,” “The Silver Chair,” “The Horse and His Boy,” “The Magician’s Nephew” (the prequel in chronology to the first book) and “The Last Battle.”
“The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” will film on both the north and south islands of New Zealand over a five-month period. After almost four months of sound stage work in Auckland, the company will move to the breathtaking locales of Queenstown, Oamaru and the Christchurch area in the nation’s south island before heading to London and the Czech Republic for additional filming. Production will conclude in January, 2005, before Adamson embarks on a yearlong post-production schedule leading to the December, 2005, worldwide release.