Labor Day and the Flawed Release Calendar

Labor Day

I will try and promise that this is my one release date/calendar rant of the year, but I will try and make it count for something. Here I will discuss the release path of Labor Day and some issues with the film calendar that it illuminates.

Now as this link indicates the film debuted on August 29th at the Telluride Film Festival. This release date is close to when its ideal release window should be. I know that in my initial 61 Days of Halloween posts I jested about how Labor Day as a cinematic holiday is about as significant as Arbor Day. And, historically speaking, that’s about right. There isn’t an over-abundance of films set around the time, and at the end of the day all the fete really means is a long weekend, the last vestige of summer. Therefore, it is more useful as a backdrop than a theme, but it does serve this story well and signify a specific time of the year to a North American audience.

The initial release date for Labor Day was announced as December 25th. Surely, that created some internet snickering, but as per the Hollywood code it indicated some confidence in the film. Although, it was a seasonally incorrect choice.

However, cramming your releases in at Christmas is what you “have to do” if you believe your film is an award contender. Here is my diatribe on the tyranny of release dates.

Here were the films that came out on December 25th:

47 Ronin, Believe, Wolf of Wall Street, Grudge Match, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom (Expanded).

When all was said and done this awards season only The Wolf of Wall Street made significant noise but it was ultimately shutout on Oscar night.

Eventually, the plan was for Labor Day to open in a limited Oscar-qualifying run on 12/27 and to open wide on January 31st. On the 27th Lone Survivor and One Chance opened in limited release. It opened against That Awkward Moment nationwide. That all would make it seem like it was an advantageous move marketing-wise. Less crowded weekend, plus the fact that January is usually a landing site for junk, or properties studios do not know what to do with, boded well for a nation-wide expansion of an Oscar hopeful.

So what happened?

The Release Date History

Labor Day (2013, Paramount)

As of today Labor Day has not made its production budget back at the box office. The Rotten Tomatoes isn’t great (http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/labor_day_2013/) but audiences flock to things in droves that critics slam creating terms like critic-proof.

One attribute that frequently affects releases in the fourth and first quarter of the year is weather. The east coast is a large proportion of the movie-going public and when it wasn’t snowing in January it was cold and about to snow. So nothing lit up the box office like The Devil Inside did. Not that that’s hard scientific evidence, but it never helps overall numbers.

Buzz has to be deafening to draw the crowds out nothing woke the masses up this year until The Lego Movie came out.

The Oscars are a big money-grab. They cost money and they, ideally, render you money. The end-of-year qualifying didn’t grab any attention. A Golden Globe nomination for Kate Winslet isn’t going to get butts into seats. No one cares. No one knows who the Hollywood Foreign Press is or what they say.

The Facts of a Brave New World

New Year's Eve (2011, Warner Bros.)

What does all that amount to? Essentially the studio seemed to scramble. They wanted in to the year end fray to try and grab some holiday money and garner some accolades. What wasn’t taken into account, aside from narrative-appropriate release was the fact that the times they are a-changing.

Long-delayed films in this Internet age are no longer getting the kiss of seat. Films are delayed for many reasons. The fact of the matter is, you’re unlikely to change how the Oscar and other award machinery works. The Academy and the studios are all complicit in making that work the way it does. However, the fact that 67% of those polled claimed to have not seen a single best picture nominee on Oscar night should concern everyone in the industry. The idea isn’t just bragging rights, guys.

That and Labor Day weekend, while usually not offering huge box office takes, is a soft spot in the annual schedule seeing as how the “fall films” aren’t quite ready to bow and August is the no-man’s-land of the summer schedule. For example, last year’s long-holiday winner was The One Direction movie with nearly $16M not a huge number but if Labor Day could’ve gotten that opening weekend it’d be in a different boat considering its relatively modest budget.

So I don’t think a delay would’ve hurt, I don’t think a tie-in with the actual date the story is set-on would hurt. Valentine’s Day and New Year’s Eve were mostly-asinine ensemble romcoms but still managed to win the box office mostly on timeliness. Even stupid holidays are things people would rather think about on said holidays rather than when they know they’re gonna freeze when they get back out of the theater.

Lastly, and a complete other story entirely, more same date VOD should start happening for titles that aren’t expected to rake in Frozen or Iron Man 3 like amounts of cash.

The “Award Film” Same-Old Same-Old

Blue Jasmine (2013, Sony Pictures Classics)

Blue Jasmine
The Grandmaster
Prisoners
The Great Gatsby
Iron Man 3
The Lone Ranger
Despicable Me 2
The Hunt
The Croods

The above-listed films are the only, I repeat, only films nominated for Academy Awards in any category that were released prior to the month of October.

Forget the fact that two of the most well-received films of the year were Mud and Fruitvale Station released in May and July were absent from Awards season.

There are many things that The Silence of the Lambs accomplished that will never occur again: it was a film that built-up momentum over the course of weeks, but it also a February, yes, February release that went on to Best Picture. Memories now are too short, perhaps by choice but part of the game, which is annoying is that you can’t release titles in the first three-quarters of the year and hope to garner nominations. The studio had some faith in Labor Day and because it held on to that glimmer of hope it put itself in a disadvantageous position financially.

A Season Turn, Turn, Turn

Halloween (1978, Compass International)

Part of the reason, aside from award consideration, that a title like Labor Day can land in late-December/January is that seasonality, with regards to film releases is not as much of a consideration anymore.

This is both a good and bad thing, the good thing is that if you’re a horror fan (as I am) you can expect horror films year-round. However, during my doubly-long focus on horror there were few theatrical wide-releases I could focus on and featured an indie VOD title as well.

With that example, and a more reason instance of Free Birds being available to rent or buy now despite its obvious tie to Thanksgiving there was less hesitation about pushing Labor Day into award season I’m fairly sure. A decision I feel ultimately hurt more than it helped. For in January if you’re not a purveyor of junk or catching up on Oscar fare you’re usually not seeing much, you’re recovering from Christmas more than likely.

Another negative of the current film game is that studios and the Internet have ensured that opening weekend becomes more and more important. Studios slotting release dates for titles that are two to three years from fruition are now news. Similarly, so are shifts in release date.

The award shuffle is ultimately not worth the effort a lot of the time. Films that debut in that time frame and don’t get the notice they want end up being buried and lost, perhaps losing an audience they had a chance to get at a different time. An example would be Monuments Men, which bowed out entirely and has made upwards of $100M worldwide.

I will leave the final word on finding the right time and not being tethered to releasing a film at “Awards Season” to Wes Anderson who said this in a recent Hollywood Reporter interview:

I don’t even have an opinion about it anymore. Every movie I’ve ever done was released in November or December until Moonrise Kingdom, which opened in May. It did better than any of my films had done in ages. It seemed like it helped that it didn’t come out in the middle of all this stuff [awards contenders]. It didn’t round up all kinds of prizes, so why not be released in May? And we weren’t finished with Grand Budapest in time to come out last year. I would not have wanted to try to rush it out. At the same time, I’m very happy not to wait 10 more months to release it. And Berlin seemed perfectly suitable, since we filmed the movie in Germany.

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Why The Purge Matters

Finances

Box office actuals won’t likely be out until tomorrow, but the estimates are that The Purge not only won the box office for the weekend clearly, but it also sets a record for an opening by an R-rated horror film in the US. On top of that, it’s take in excess of $36 million dollars more than makes back its reported 3 million production budget.

I’ve frequently commented on budgets inasmuch as I don’t care what they are so long as the film is good. As a viewer that’s true. If a film cost a couple of thousand dollars and works (like Absentia) good for it. If a movie costs a lot of money and works for me bully for it as well (See Artificial Intelligence). Budget really only comes into play on a film, for a viewer, when a film is trying to tell a story beyond its means and fails. If a film understands its constraints and tells its story well within them you can’t knock if for being made on the cheap.

As a filmmaker, budgets do matter. When a film made with a very small investment compared to many, especially so-called tentpoles, can be a hit regardless of what its magic number is and return on that investment that’s a great thing. Most people with sense recognize that fiscal responsibility is needed. Steven Spielberg has directed a number of blockbusters but even he knows that more isn’t always more. So there’s a sense that profit, more than throwing money at a supposed sure thing; or rather something that can’t miss because too much has been invested already, doesn’t always make sense.

The Purge (2013, Universal)

Story

But the success of The Purge is exciting because its strength is its idea. Now, I am one of those who enjoyed the film a great deal. There was a certain more that I wanted, and not in the best way, but the film does work and sets the stage. The concept is about a night of legalized crime. The introduction to the concept is through a microcosmic approach where one family who usually does not get involved, just hides out, becomes ground zero for the neighborhood’s hunt. It essentially plays a home invasion plot.

However, with a jumping-off point of legalized crime and the potential franchise (I am sure it will be one now) drawing its strength from a concept rather than a star or an iconic character there are any number of areas or stories in the genre it can explore. It can either start the next installment with this family or go off on a tangent, it can show the chaos that lead to this all or any number of permutations on Purge Night. Like many of the most successful franchises it tethers itself to a once-a-year happening, but in this case they created a holiday.

I think a common talking point was we wanted more about what precipitated the institution of the purge. That is introduced just enough such that the story can work and the details are left as potential fodder for later. In this film its a given and that’s fine. It still works very well and more importantly people talked about it. Whether you went in cynical or willingly suspended disbelief it got people talking, just on the concept.

On my Twitter feed I saw a hashtag develop of #LegitPurgeQuestions. Yes, many of them were funny but it’s still people talking, engaging, being interested in the idea, and when all is said and done, wanting more.

When I recently rescreened Sinister I noted how many bullets I jotted down for a post I’m planning later in the year. There are many talking points in it. Blumhouse is not only making successful horror films but ones that get people talking and whether you enjoy them or not, I for the most part have liked them a lot, they’re keeping a genre that’s always in peril of stagnation, to one extent or another, fresh.

I say that can be nothing but a good thing.

The Problems of Limiting Foreign Film Submissions (Part 1 of 2)

In my previous post, I wrote about how I would propose to alter the Foreign Language Film submission process. I am working backwards as now, in this post, I will address, with a little more support to back up my own hypotheses the issues that would be addressed if you were to allow select countries multiple submissions.

Essentially, the goal is as follows:

If you are a nation like France or Italy with a long and rich cinematic tradition, the selection process can prove volatile and complex. France, for example, submitted Of Gods and Men a few years ago. Its being snubbed, while an Algerian film with a similar subject, Outside the Law, making the shortlist caused quite a furor. Now, this is not to say that France being given more submissions would’ve gotten it to the shortlist, but being limited to one film invariably creates questions and doubts. Both nations made films about the colonial era, one was chosen and one wasn’t. Aside from the complaints about which nation a production really pertains to, it’s messy. Just search debates about selections and you will find trades reporting on them annually.

Now, I will grant that a multiple submission policy is altruism, and being realistic these things would likely still have happened but if France were afforded a handful of submissions, these incidents would likely have been lessened.

Erika Bók in The Turin Horse (Cinema Guild)

Taking any political extremism out of the equation, multiple nominees for some countries would also make some nations more inclined to take a chance. When Hungary submitted The Turin Horse last year, it was speculated in trades to have a slim chance due to the composition of the viewership and the nature of the film, and sure enough it wasn’t shortlisted. Not that Hungary has been especially prolific lately, and their last nomination was in 1988, but it’s a good example of a country that could’ve used an extra spot to pick what it thought was the best artistic choice and then gamble on a popular pick and/or one likely to find favor with American viewers.

Greece’s selection of Dogtooth a few years ago was seen as some as being silly, almost frivolous. Just it being described as gutsy made me want to see it. They were lucky in actually earning a nomination. I enjoyed it, but was equally surprised by its selection once I saw it.

With just one film allotted per country, as fair as that may seem, too many ulterior factors come into play besides is this really the best film, and some of the factors I suspected were echoed by others I asked. Other factors I hadn’t considered, that can be found mirrored in American films jockeying for Oscar nominations, also came to the fore.

The questions I typically asked were as follows:

At times, does the reputation, or lack thereof, of a director influence the selection?

At times, does politics, whether real or film, play a part?

At times, do films more likely to impress Oscar voters get selected over more artistic films?

Did you see (Title of film submitted by your country)?

If you saw it, did you like it?

Why do you think (Name of country) selected (Title of Film) Deserved it? Oscar-Friendliness? Both? Neither?

Here are some of the findings from Brazilians I asked, more nations will follow in the next part.

Brazil

With regards to Brazil, this is the nation where I will have the widest range of opinions. Aside from being a dual citizen, a majority of my family lives in Brazil so I was able to receive the highest number of responses here also.

When The Hollywood Reporter wrote-up the announcement they correctly cited O Palhaço (The Clown) as a domestic box-office success. Over 1.4 million tickets sold. That’s accurate, as ticket sales are the measure (especially for domestic films) and in Brazil that’s a fairly high total. I take no issue at face value with sending the domestic box office champion as your nominee. There are stories like wins for domestic films in Spain and Norway that are most definitely positives. Hollywood proliferates globally and for indigenous cinemas to be successful at home is very important.

The complications of selecting the box-office champion of the year arise when you have mixed reactions to the film in general. First, I will recuse myself from weighing in on the film itself (O Palhaço) as I have yet to see it. However, I admit I was a bit surprised by this choice as I had yet to hear of it. I saw one Brazilian title this year, which I thought was great, and heard of another one. Both made a decent splash either on the festival circuit or in the international market. With regards to the plot when I read of it, it seemed like a less actually political selection, but did entertainment politics factor? What besides the box office could’ve influenced this selection?

So what did my family and friends say in response to my inquiries regarding O Palhaço? They start off about as negative as a film receiving such an honor can get: “My husband saw it and thought it was horrible! According to him the movie must’ve been picked for a lack of options!” The lack of options isn’t something that’s necessarily supportable by empirical evidence. In 2012 two films either solely produced or co-produced by Brazil appeared in Berlin, 5 films either solely produced or co-produced appeared in the Cannes programs and 2 either solely or co-produced appeared at Sundance, so there were other Brazilian films with festival pedigree. Not to mention the fact, that having eligible films doesn’t always lead to a submission, as was evidenced by Luxembourg passing.

As I got more and more comments, the initial reaction that people were “Sharply divided” proved true. However, in Brazil’s case one of my suppositions seems to have played out, and that’s the reputation of the director. With O Palhaço the director is lead actor Selton Melo. It’s a passion project, those with negative views of the film argue it’s a “commercial for him.” So box office appeal and the fact that a respected actor took on a project does buoy the Oscar hopes of this film, and even those who like Melo fell on the side of those less than enthused by the film, and some even underwhelmed by this particular turn. However, Melo’s status only seems to be growing in Brazil, as he is also taking on a Brazilian-produced HBO series.

The clout, or lack thereof, of some distributors within Brazil was also reported to me as a factor that could keep more deserving films from being considered. This seems not too foreign when anyone who pays attention to Oscar races here knows how much money is involved in campaigning, and how certain directors, producers, and studio heads become favorites. It was also indicated to me that candidacy for the Brazilian submission may not be a cheap thing to make yourself eligible for, which wouldn’t surprise me either, but that is an issue that filters down to the national level and is beyond the purview of the Academy or any foreign body. However, the fact remains that many would attribute most submissions as being decisions that disregard aesthetics and if the film also happens to be good it’s a bonus, but it’s a powerplay. One response pronounced all that quite explicitly and even concluded in English stating “It’s all about business!”

Perhaps the most intriguing response I got was the one that indicated it’d be impossible to remove politics entirely since you’re asking countries to submit films, and I will grant that. It’s practically impossible to expunge when other productions and/or world events will cause protests. The nation submitting likely consciously or unconsciously affects voters, even if its just that a certain viewer has more of an affinity with one national cinema or another. What the ultimate goal of this plan, that I admit will likely never, ever occur, is to encourage more risk from national film governing bodies. Perhaps that encouragement would lead to more aesthetically forward choices that will get rewarded by the votership, or better yet bring the film to new audiences.

Now, according to my idealistic designs, Brazil as a prior multiple-nominee would receive three submissions. If that were the case, perhaps they’d be so inspired to take a chance on one of the remaining selections on something a little more free of influence. To paraphrase John Lennon, I may be dreaming but I know I’m not alone in hoping something like that would occur.

Review- John Carter

Taylor Kitsch and Lynn Collins in John Carter (Disney)

I was likely one of very few people who was actually very eager to see this film, however, this is not the place to discuss the marketing missteps of this film that will likely land it the dubious distinction of being one of the biggest flops of all time. However, it does bear mentioning that flops are usually measured in financial terms alone but this film I found to be very good and it deserved a better marketing campaign and more of an audience than it did end up getting in its opening weeks.

The film does take its time to build and thus pushes its running time over the two hour mark but it’s all time well spent. The beginning shows where Carter is and how he is a man who given the chance would turn his back not just on the norms of the world at present but the world in general. There are some beautiful cuts to illustrate his defiance and it is not the only element of his character and the plot that is being established and layered at the start.

The film does have a lot of extra-terrestrial political intrigue and to an extent transcendental politics that are involved and the balancing act that these elements have to engage in with the visceral, relatable parameters of the story are not handled perfectly but with any aspect that is introduced in this film that makes the balance more precarious is also making the story a bit more intriguing and involved, which is a good thing because without them I admit it would’ve been a bit milquetoast but there’s enough going on that it stays interesting and somewhat unique. Is there an element of pulp fiction to this tale? Absolutely but pulp fiction can be some of the most enjoyable stories you’re likely to find.

Aside from the political intrigue there’s also a certain duality introduced that separates this film. To say more would be to divulge too much but it is very effective and adds an additional element to the story that really lends it some much needed gravitas at the moment where it truly needs it.

Why it’s a necessity is because the story at that point had reached a point where John and Dejah’s conflict had passed its boiling point and, in fact, was running out of steam so that added to it. Regardless of the minimal script issues Taylor Kitsch and Lynn Collins do very well. They are equally impressive and in my frame of reference had different tasks whereas Lynn Collins I was not very familiar with at all I knew Kitcsch from Friday Night Lights and here had to watch him play an older, jaded character and it was convincing. Daryl Sabara’s participation in this film while small in screen-time is significant in his interpretation as a young man who’ll readily listen to his uncle’s tales.

The trifecta in separating this story from other space operas is it conclusion. It was a built to and alluded to finale but it did catch me slightly off guard but it was also clear enough such that it clicked right away. It made sense and is a great little twist that made the whole experience that much more enjoyable.

The effects work was very good, it rarely was in your face and included very deft creation of vistas and creatures. I cannot comment on the 3D work since I did not watch it as such simply because of showtime options.

I personally left the film wanting the sequel that the box office receipts seem to indicate will never come which is a shame but it does not alter my opinion of this film. It’s a very good one that deserves a shot.

8/10

Review- Winnie the Pooh

Winnie the Pooh (Disney)

Winnie the Pooh is one of those characters and series of stories that I cannot write about without giving you a bit of personal information to help put things in perspective for the reader this way you, the reader, can understand where I’m coming from and you can then gauge what your reaction will likely be. I’ve loved this character and the world he inhabits since I was very young. However, as I grew older, more knowledgeable and perhaps a bit more cynical I cast a leery eye on the modern renditions of Winnie that Disney was creating. However, I recently gave one a chance and while it wasn’t great it was much better than I expected. So I came into the film open-minded and cautiously optimistic.

Immediately, I fell in love with this film because they brought back the live action introduction wherein we see Christopher Robin’s room. It sets the tone for the rest of the film where a new story was being unfurled in a very traditional manner but to a new generation. From there on in all the choices are a very delicate balance between trying to recapture some of the old magic and also advance the narrative in some new directions.

One very clear way in which this was done is in the brilliant job that was done in casting this film. Firstly, you have Jim Cummings not only doing double duty as both Tigger and Pooh but his Pooh is eerily similar to Sterling Holloway’s original version. What’s more stunning is Craig Ferguson’s performance as Owl because I literally had no idea who played Owl but he’s fabulous. The last and most important cog in any of these films is the narrator. John Cleese, of course, does wonderfully and the Narrator is very involved in this tale.

Which brings to mind an interesting point about this film is that the book and the text within that act as interstitials between the occasional scene gets very involved in the telling of the tale. This I’m sure must be fun for kids but it’s a great treat for the parents and adults as it’s a joke that works on a couple of levels.

What’s most refreshing about the film is not even that it manages to be very funny but that most of it stems from a series of misunderstandings. The timing is crisp and the jokes do have variety some are cutesy but some are also rather smart. What’s also fantastic is that the morals of the story fold themselves in very naturally and aren’t overly-apparent when they’re happening and also not overly on the head when told to Pooh at the end.

It also manages to be a genuinely touching and heart-warming film without needing to be cloying or schmaltzy. The characters to those familiar to us are well-established but for those new to them they are quickly and clearly re-established as is their relationship to one another and their search for the “creature” they believe has Christopher Robin and for Eeyore’s tail reflects all that’s great about each of them and it jumps off the screen.

There are used in the film many different techniques that make the film feel more modern such as the chalky animation to describe the mythical “Backson” during the musical number that accompanies it and the fantasy sequences as Pooh through most of the film cannot sate his hunger for honey.

In summation I would not hesitate to call Winnie the Pooh a great film. In little more than an hour you had two searches and two other characters had their own subplots, the songs are all good and well sung and there’s a great bit of comedy and philosophy as per usual. As a post-script I’m saddened that those who were not inclined to see Harry Potter were likely averse to going to the movies that weekend and thus you get the returns for Winnie the Pooh were less than stellar. With that in mind I urge you, if it’s no longer playing at a theatre near you, to see this film on home video please. You won’t regret it.

10/10

The Trouble with The Magician’s Nephew

The Chronicles of Narnia (Scholastic)

So yesterday the beans were finally spilled that it will be the Magician’s Nephew that is the next book in The Chronicles of Narnia that will be adapted into a film. Now I had been one of a select group of fans who had adamantly supported The Silver Chair as the next book that should get adapted and not just for continuity’s sake, as Eustace, played by Will Poulter, in the only character that crosses over to that book from Dawn Treader.

The fact that this debate exists is interesting and indicative of a few things that are unique about the Narnia series as opposed to other fantasy properties.

First, it needs to be acknowledged that the chronology was always likely to be fractured. Those seeds were sewn by C.S. Lewis himself. For it was Lewis himself who wrote The Magician’s Nephew after the other six installments and pleaded, mostly to no avail, that it be read before The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. As a child I did not read it as such. When the first film was about to be released I searched for information on reading order and finally took the tales in properly.

Of course, we all know The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe was the first film and subsequently that the producers decided that it was to be the Pevensie tales would be told first. Whereas in other fantasy properties you typically have a continuity in the personages populating the tale. Lewis, however, is true to the name of his series and this series are about the stories and about the land rather than a particular lead or group thereof.

If one adheres to Lewis’s reading plot the books that have been adapted thus far are numbers two, four and five. The decision to go to The Magician’s Nephew, an origins tale, at this point is a curious one on a few accounts.

Firstly, I find it a bit of a curious business decision. The Voyage of the Dawn Treader just crossed the $400 Million mark in international box office receipts and it is a film that took the somewhat unusual path in this day and age of building by word-of-mouth. Due in part to the disappointment most felt in Prince Caspian it didn’t break out of the box strong but had staying power when people realized this one is very good indeed.

With a franchise redeemed, at least in a financial sense, it would seem like the most obvious decision in the world to go next to the one tale that had any sort of connection.

Will Poulter in The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (20th Century Fox)

Furthermore, it needs to be noted that while the film doesn’t make it explicit I assumed Will Poulter is playing quite a few years younger than he is in Dawn Treader. Given some time off he may not look the part of Eustace as much as he does now. Not that I think he’d be replaced but it just might seem a bit awkward or need a bit of a re-write when the Silver Chair‘s time does come.

With this sort of momentum I even entertained the wild fantasy that funding would be sought for both potential next films to shoot simultaneously and release one shortly after another. The fact of the matter is the remaining volumes need not all have the same director as each has its own sensibility.

Pipe dreams aside, personally I would’ve liked Silver Chair next not just because I prefer that story but because it made more logical sense. The series has already pleasantly surprised me in two of its three installments so I am more than willing to withhold judgment but as I said it strikes me as odd.

With Narnia being by its very nature a more fragmented series it does raise some doubts as to what its cinematic future is. Let us assume the tale works as well as possible and the marketing draws in enough fans new and old, then what?

After The Magician’s Nephew the books that remain are: The Horse and His Boy, book number three, a more introspective tale than any of the others. It always struck me as having a Carol Ballard’s Black Stallion vibe, which would make it rather an artistic venture and as such it’s a gamble. I can’t see the producers gambling twice in a row so I predict this book would be the 6th film of the series.

The Silver Chair being the runner-up this time around would thus be the 5th film adapted and naturally The Last Battle would close out the series.

If films four and five connect then I think it’d be safe to assume they could afford a gamble and a closing chapter.

When it started there were no guarantees, and there still isn’t, that this series would see completion. It’s an older property than the other big budget films and has Christian overtones, which do not appeal to some but it’s never been about that to me it’s been about great storytelling.

In conclusion, I do like The Magician’s Nephew and definitely think there’s potential there with new cast members and story which re-examines some familiar motifs. I am just not sure it was the right choice as the next film. However, if it does well this series will be one step closer to following in Harry Potter‘s footsteps, proving you can plan a massive series and achieve it. If you consider that I believe two of the first three Narnia installments trump Potter it is very exciting news regardless of which novel they chose to adapt next.