How did a movie about crusaders, a sacrificial lion and talking beavers gross $67 million in its opening weekend? The not-so-unlikely marriage of Hollywood and C.S. Lewis.
By John Zmirak
What did you do this past weekend? I spent part of mine in a Times Square theater full of adult Manhattanites at a movie with talking beavers. And a perky 8-year-old English girl with crooked teeth. And a cute widdle goat boy named Tumnus. No hunks on screen, no babes, and nary a kiss. The only “hot” woman in the movie was a six-foot-plus satanic witch with blonde dredlocks, and a kinky habit of torturing centaurs. The film’s stars were teens and children, but there wasn’t one kid in the audience. Nor were these moviegoers bused in from some Evangelical church—there were too many women wearing black, holding hands with Nader voters. I wondered aloud if this was a bunch of stoners—but sniffed around in vain for a whiff of the banished herb. Nobody snorted at the moments of outright Christian allegory, or scoffed at the galloping satyrs. Only one person even got up to go to the bathroom. These urbanites sat, spellbound, for more than two hours, some with tears on their cheeks, and at the end they burst into applause. At last I had to face the fact: New Yorkers are into Narnia.
So are Americans: The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe made $67 million in its opening weekend, covering almost half its costs, and received glowing reviews from most major papers, including the Logos-phobic New York Times. (Only the lowbrow New York Post and drab suburban Newsday disagreed.) Ladies and gentlemen, what we have here is a hit—and the prospect of six more Narnia movies, to compete with the Harry Potter franchise and drive C.S. Lewis all the way up the bestseller lists. Look for Lewis sections to spring up in the bookstores, crowding up against the Tolkien shelves, in a veritable onslaught of Oxford Christian whimsy. It helps that so many of the writers who review the movies grew up on the Narnia books, and still remember fondly the moments of imaginative epiphany they provoked.