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RE: [mythsoc] Tales Before Tolkien

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  • Marcie Geffner
    Hello back to you, and thanks for being the first person (I think) to tell me about MythSoc, though it took me ages to finally join the listserv. Your Narnia
    Message 1 of 18 , Nov 29, 2005
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      Hello back to you, and thanks for being the first person (I think) to tell
      me about MythSoc, though it took me ages to finally join the listserv. Your
      Narnia cartoon brought a smile to my day!
      mg


      _____

      From: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com [mailto:mythsoc@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of
      Stolzi
      Sent: Monday, November 28, 2005 6:56 PM
      To: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com
      Subject: Re: [mythsoc] Tales Before Tolkien

      HI, Marcie!

      Diamond Proudbrook


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    • Bonnie Callahan
      Welcome to the list, Marcie! Sorry i missed you at LosCon Your fellow TFer, Prunella
      Message 2 of 18 , Nov 29, 2005
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        Welcome to the list, Marcie!

        Sorry i missed you at LosCon

        Your fellow TFer, Prunella

        mgeff@... wrote:

        > Greetings:
        > Newbie here would like to second Mike's recommendation of "Tales Before
        > Tolkien" (Ed. Doug Anderson). I especially love the delightful "Chu-Bu and
        > Sheemish" by Lord Dunsany.
        > -- Marcie
        >
        > -----Original Message-----
        > From: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com [mailto:mythsoc@yahoogroups.com]On Behalf Of
        > Mike Foster
        > Sent: Sunday, November 27, 2005 6:16 PM
        > To: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com; Barnett, Catherine R
        > Subject: Re: [mythsoc] Companion to Narnia & Lewis Book Question
        >
        > _Tales Before Tolkien_ is boggling good. My best student in the 2005
        > spring term of that Tolkien class I once taught did a great appreciation
        > and critical review [hi, Catherine!] of it that, I hope, Mythprint will
        > publish.
        >
        > Foster
        >
        > Hugh Davis wrote:
        >
        > >
        > >
        > >
        > >>From: David Bratman <dbratman@...>
        > >>
        > >>
        > >
        > >
        > >
        > >>You are probably thinking of _Reading the Classics with C.S. Lewis_,
        > edited
        > >>by Thomas L. Martin (Baker Academic, 2000). It's a collection of essays
        > by
        > >>scholars each discussing the books Lewis read in a particular field and
        > >>what he thought of them.
        > >>
        > >>The closest Tolkien equivalent is probably _Tales Before Tolkien_ edited
        > by
        > >>Douglas A. Anderson (Del Rey, 2003), an anthology of fantasy short stories
        > >>predating The Hobbit. Some of these Tolkien read, and may have been
        > >>influenced by; the editor's notes explain which.
        > >>
        > >>
        > >>
        > >Right on both (although I did think the Tolkien volume was farther back
        > than
        > >that). Thank you, David.
        > >
        > >Hugh
        > >
        > >
        > >
        > >
        > >
        > >The Mythopoeic Society website http://www.mythsoc.org
        > >Yahoo! Groups Links
        > >
        > >
        > >
        > >
        > >
        > >
        > >
        > >
        > >
        > >
        >
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        >
        > The Mythopoeic Society website http://www.mythsoc.org
        >
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      • Marcie Geffner
        The L.A. TImes naturally runs a lot of articles about Hollywood. There’s no new information in this one about the man who owns the film rights to the Narnia
        Message 3 of 18 , Dec 5, 2005
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          The L.A. TImes naturally runs a lot of articles about Hollywood. There�s no
          new information in this one about the man who owns the film rights to the
          Narnia series, but here it is if anyone is interested in the background:
          -- Marcie

          In 'Narnia,' Tycoon Seeks Blockbuster With a Message
          By Claudia Eller, Times Staff Writer

          After coming up dry on such costly movie flops as "Around the World in 80
          Days" and "Sahara," Hollywood's highest-rolling wildcatter is looking for
          his first gusher.

          And once again, Philip Anschutz is risking big.
          The Denver-based multibillionaire, who made a fortune in oil, natural gas,
          railroads, telecommunications and real estate, has spent $90 million � half
          the film's $180-million budget � to produce the screen adaptation of the
          children's classic "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the
          Wardrobe."

          But whether the movie, which opens Friday, will produce the lucrative
          family-oriented franchise that Anschutz hopes for depends on how skillfully
          he and his partners at Walt Disney Co. have tapped the well.

          Anschutz's independent production company, Walden Media, and Disney, which
          cofinanced the film, are banking on religious moviegoers and secular fans
          alike to make "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" � adapted from the
          beloved book by British theologian and literary scholar C.S. Lewis � a giant
          hit.

          Such a windfall would give the 65-year-old Anschutz, whose vast assets
          include Staples Center, the Los Angeles Kings hockey team, the San Francisco
          Examiner and Regal Entertainment Group, the world's largest operator of
          movie theaters, something he needs more than money: credibility as a savvy
          investor in the movie business.

          It could also give Disney something it lacks � a sure-fire movie series on a
          par with the "Harry Potter" or "Lord of the Rings" franchises, which have
          reaped billions for rival studios. Anschutz, a religious Christian who has
          vowed to make wholesome entertainment that doesn't rely on sex, foul
          language or violence to sell tickets, controls the rights to all seven books
          in the Narnia series.

          But first, the companies must pull off a delicate balancing act, luring
          religious moviegoers to the allegorical film without turning off mainstream
          audiences.

          "It's a balance to try to market to the widest possible audience," said
          Disney Studios Chairman Dick Cook. "We're trying to cast the widest net we
          can."

          To that end, Disney is spending mightily � an estimated $120 million to
          market and distribute the PG-rated film worldwide on more than 8,000
          screens.

          Although the studio hopes to attract the same churchgoers who helped make
          Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ" a box-office juggernaut in 2004,
          Cook said less than 5% of the film's marketing budget was earmarked to reach
          that group.

          Disney has hired some of the same marketing outfits that drummed up
          grass-roots support for Gibson's film through church-based outreach
          programs, study guides and other means, but "none of the marketing plays up
          the biblical aspects of the story," Cook said.

          Brent Plate, assistant professor of religion at Texas Christian University
          in Fort Worth, said Disney was smart to take a two-pronged sales approach.

          "It's a fine line to walk because you don't want to alienate anyone," said
          Plate, who believes that the Narnia saga is "in no way a 'Passion' for
          kids," as some evangelical groups have labeled the film.

          In Lewis' books, which have sold more than 95 million copies worldwide,
          there are many religious references, though to most children, they're hard
          to spot. For example, Aslan the lion, a benevolent character who is
          sacrificed and resurrected, is widely seen to represent Christ.

          But many, including Lewis himself, have said the mythologies in "Narnia" are
          open to various interpretations, and the story is more about universal
          themes of good versus evil, betrayal, sacrifice and forgiveness than about
          God.

          In the film version of "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe," devoted fans
          will recognize the four young British siblings who are transported through a
          magic wardrobe to Narnia, a parallel universe inhabited by talking animals,
          satyrs, dwarfs and an evil witch. The children discover their inner strength
          when they lead the forces of good in a battle to save Narnia.

          Though there is plenty of spirited swordplay to satisfy audiences that like
          action-adventure movies, the film is true to the book's spiritual themes.
          The children, for example, are referred to as the sons and daughters of Adam
          and Eve.

          "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe," in other words, has all the elements
          � loyalty, family, redemption � that Anschutz prizes most. Those who work
          with him say that for the press-shy entrepreneur, "Narnia" represents the
          perfect melding of his dual missions: to make big money while subtly
          promoting a moral agenda.

          "It is a true combination of two motives," said David Weil, chief executive
          of Anschutz Film Group, which owns Walden Media and its sister firm, Bristol
          Bay Productions.

          Anschutz declined to comment for this article, but remarks he made last year
          at a Florida college speak volumes about what motivated him to become a
          Hollywood player.

          After years of complaining about the content of movies, Anschutz told the
          students, "I decided to stop cursing the darkness � and instead do something
          about it by getting into the film business."

          That decision, he joked, prompted his wife to question his sanity.

          "Phil, this is one of the nuttier things you've ever done," he recalled her
          saying before warning him to keep his day job.

          But as crazy as it seemed, Anschutz said, he believed there was money to be
          made in family films. "My reasons for getting into the entertainment
          business weren't entirely selfless," he told the students. "Hollywood as an
          industry can at times be insular and doesn't understand the market very
          well. I saw an opportunity in that fact."

          His mission, as he saw it, was to "figure out a way to make goods and
          products that people actually want to buy."

          So far, his track record has been spotty.

          "More of our films lost money than made money," acknowledged Weil, who was
          Anschutz's attorney before being named head of the billionaire's film
          company last year.

          Anschutz's successes include the acclaimed films "Holes," "Because of
          Winn-Dixie" and "Ray," which won Jamie Foxx a best actor Oscar for his
          portrayal of the legendary Ray Charles. The $40-million film, which Anschutz
          personally bankrolled, is his biggest box office hit to date with $75
          million in U.S. ticket sales.

          But any profits he may have seen from those films were offset by untold
          losses from such expensive misses as last year's $110-million remake of
          "Around the World in 80 Days," which grossed just $24 million domestically.

          Anschutz's only other attempt to create a franchise, this year's
          $130-million action adventure "Sahara," the first film from a series of
          Clive Cussler novels, not only was a box office disappointment but also
          prompted an ugly legal brawl. Cussler sued Anschutz, who had optioned all 18
          of the novelist's books, alleging his creative rights were violated.
          Anschutz countersued, saying the author breached their agreement by
          bad-mouthing the movie before its release, among other things.

          No settlement talks are underway in the case, which is scheduled for trial
          in May. No other movies based on Cussler's novels are planned.

          Those who know Anschutz well say his experience in the oil business, where
          it's common to drill 20 to 30 holes before striking crude, has made him a
          patient investor. He's considered a contrarian, meaning he likes to operate
          counter to conventional wisdom.

          For example, in 2000 and 2001, when the exhibition business was reeling from
          an overbuilding spree, Anschutz bought three troubled theater circuits at
          bargain prices. He then merged the trio of companies � creating the world's
          largest theater chain � and took them public as Regal Entertainment Group.

          "It's been a good investment for Phil," said Mike Campbell, CEO of Regal,
          whose 550 theaters boast more than 6,500 screens in 40 states. Campbell
          estimates that in any given year, Regal generates about 20%, and sometimes
          more, of the total U.S. box office receipts.

          Since the company went public in 2002, Campbell said, Anschutz hasn't sold a
          single share: "I think that reflects his confidence in the business and his
          long-term investment strategy."

          But Anschutz's faith in his own intuition has also led him astray. Anschutz,
          who owns five professional soccer teams, invested $20 million in a World
          Cup-themed movie, "The Game of Their Lives," that grossed a measly $375,474.

          Still, Anschutz has told colleagues that he remains committed to the
          creative side of the movie business. He likes moviemaking not just for its
          entertainment value but also for what Weil calls its ability to "educate,
          inspire and promote literacy." (Most of Walden's movies are based on popular
          books, and Anschutz insists that the marketing of those films include
          educational programs that encourage children to read).

          In that vein, Walden is launching a book imprint in partnership with a major
          publisher. Anschutz is also considering expanding his film company into such
          areas as television production and video games.

          "Let's put it this way: We signed a 10-year lease on our building," said
          Cary Granat, CEO of Walden, whose posh new headquarters in a Century City
          high-rise boasts a 20-seat, state-of-the-art screening room.

          "We're building Walden into a trusted family brand," Granat said. "And Phil
          is committed to the slate we have."

          Among its upcoming projects, most of which are budgeted at less than $30
          million, is an $85-million adaptation of E.B. White's pig-and-spider
          classic, "Charlotte's Web," which Walden co-financed with Paramount
          Pictures. It is scheduled for release in June.

          Walden and Disney are already tentatively planning a "Narnia" sequel, based
          on Lewis' "Prince Caspian." If the first film is a hit, its director Andrew
          Adamson and producer Mark Johnson stand ready to go into production next
          fall on "Caspian," to be released during the 2007 holiday season.

          On an even grander scale, Granat and Weil said they were considering
          launching an endeavor that would compete with the major studios: a movie
          distribution operation that would enable the company to market and release
          its own movies.

          "Phil Anschutz is known to be an opportunist," Weil said.

          As Anschutz told the students in Florida, he knows he has something to
          prove.

          "Nothing communicates with the people who make real decisions in Hollywood,"
          he said, "like spending your own money and showing that you can make
          profitable films."

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        • Hugh Davis
          It appears I will be able to teach a semester independent study on CS Lewis next semester (I teach at an independent high school), and I would love to hear
          Message 4 of 18 , Dec 5, 2005
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            It appears I will be able to teach a semester independent study on CS Lewis
            next semester (I teach at an independent high school), and I would love to
            hear from list members who have taught courses on CS Lewis (and the rest of
            the Inklings) about what you feel *must* be included and any other
            recommendations you can make.

            Thank you,

            Hugh Davis
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