The Golden Compass

A great many people are fans of Philip Pullman‘s His Dark Materials trilogy, and a whole lot of said fans probably remember how disappointed they were when The Golden Compass, based on the first of those books, came out in 2007. It was really a blessing that the film didn’t do well enough to spawn any sequels, as originally planned. Especially because if it had, we wouldn’t be getting our hopes up for a new small-screen adaptation of Pullman’s story.

BBC One has announced that it’s making a new drama series based on Pullman’s books, which center on Lyra Belacqua, a young girl living in a parallel universe where people’s souls exist outside their bodies in the form of animal companions (known as daemons). And the story only gets weirder and wilder from there. More about the His Dark Materials BBC project after the jump.

Deadline reports New Line Cinema is producing the His Dark Materials BBC drama with Bad Wolf. Pullman, who is executive producing, gushed about the project.

It’s been a constant source of pleasure to me to see this story adapted to different forms and presented in different media. It’s been a radio play, a stage play, a film, an audiobook, a graphic novel — and now comes this version for television. In recent years we’ve seen how long stories on television, whether adaptations (Game of Thrones) or original (The Sopranos, The Wire), can reach depths of characterization and heights of suspense by taking the time for events to make their proper impact and for consequences to unravel.


Pullman’s His Dark Materials books are typically categorized as YA fantasy, but are much more complex than that label would suggest. Not only does it have a big, sprawling plot, it dives deep into philosophical and theological issues. The series as a whole has been acclaimed by adult critics and readers as well as kids. In fact, the last book, titled The Amber Spyglass, was the first children’s book ever longlisted for the prestigious Man Booker Prize.

Perhaps not surprisingly, then, one of the biggest problems with the Golden Compass movie was that it watered down the source material, downplaying its more complicated and controversial elements in order to appease the box office. Not that it helped — it still drew ire from religious groups and did middling business. All in all, it seemed like a waste of good source material, a good writer and director (Chris Weitz), and a good cast (including Dakota Blue RichardsDaniel Craig, and Nicole Kidman).

It’s unclear how many episodes the His Dark Materials BBC drama will have. But the fact that Pullman mentions long, layered stories like Game of ThronesThe Sopranos, and The Wire suggests that one of the advantages of a show, as opposed to a movie, is that Lyra’s story will have more room to breathe on the small screen. Details on who’ll fill out the new cast, or when it’ll shoot and when it’ll air, have not been revealed.


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With New Moon ruling the box office this weekend, director Chris Weitz must be glad to put the failure of The Golden Compass behind him. In fact, he admitted as much in Variety’s announcement of his next project, The Gardener. He didn’t hold back  at all on trash talking New Line, just check out some of the quotes after the break. Weitz also made it clear that he’s not retiring after this next project.

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After The Golden Compass failed to crack $70 million at the domestic box office, many industry types and American moviegoers pfffft‘d the notion that the other films in Philip Pullman‘s His Dark Materials trilogy would ever be made. However, as Variety notes, the first film, which starred Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig, and had a budget of nearly $200 million, is line to be the first film to ever crack $300 million internationally without reaching $100 million domestic. This is an astonishing disconnect, really. Producer Deborah Forte is not only hopeful that The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass will be made, she is adamant…

“This was a success as a family movie in most countries, it’s a very strong family franchise, it won an Academy Award [for Visual Effects]. We have to make the second and the third movie. …”I will make ‘The Subtle Knife’ and ‘The Amber Spyglass,'” she vows. “I believe there are enough people who see what a viable and successful franchise we have.”

The Golden Compass‘s failure domestically and New Line’s decision pre-release to sell off the international rights are seen as primary factors in the studio recently being downsized and absorbed by Warner Bros. Forte doesn’t offer an outright opinion on the gross gap, but hints that she was displeased with the marketing in the U.S. She says that per discussions with New Line, Compass‘s DVD, to be released stateside on April 28th, “must be marketed as a family film.” Moreover, a script for The Subtle Knife has already been written by Hossein Amini (Killshot, The Four Feathers). If Warner Bros. passes on the sequels, it’s even suggested that Forte might seek an independent route.

While I think the marketing in America focused too much on Kidman and Craig, two stars with little appeal to tweens, The Golden Compass faced a tall order of bad, nearly sensational, press domestically, with many outlets playing up the books atheistic messages. Its release during the holidays was also rather careless. The film came to be seen by the mainstream as an anti-Christian Chronicles of Narnia and thus unsuitable for family viewings. As Variety points out the film did well in Italy were the pope publicly called out the film as “the most anti-Christmas movie possible,” but Italy doesn’t have virulent talk radio and Fox News talking heads.

Discuss: Why did The Golden Compass perform so well worldwide? Are you interested in seeing the sequels?

Watch the Missing Ending from The Golden Compass

Watch the Missing Ending from The Golden Compass

One of the big complaints about The Golden Compass, was the abrupt ending. Fans of the novel complained that the last few chapters of the book had not been included. And people that never read the book series could sense that something was missing.

Truth is, they were actually filmed more scenes, but they were cut due to running-time. You can even see a bit or two in some of the trailers. And one of the ending scenes shot but not included in the theatrical cut of the movie actually made it into the video game adaptation. Watch the video below.
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FightCastThe FightCast has returned for Round Two. In this week’s FightCast, we fight about the newly debuted Speed Racer trailer and The Golden Compass, two of the biggest topics of discussion heading into this weekend.

The very first trailer for the Wachowski Brother’s adaptation of the Japanese cartoon Speed Racer arrived yesterday, and is getting quite a polarized response. Alex thinks it will revolutionize cinema, while Peter isn’t impressed.

The Golden Compass hits theaters today. The fantasy adventure film based on the Philip Pullman novel is getting a mixed response. Peter enjoyed it a lot but had some problems, and Alex has a similar opinion.

This week’s episode was again recorded over the phone. I’m still trying to convince Alex to record the podcast through Skype, for clearer audio. But again, if you’re looking for high production value, look elsewhere. This isn’t even a show, it’s a conversation between two film geeks. The official website has launched – and for all future episodes and to subscribe to the podcast, head right to:!

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Download FightCast – Round 2!


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The Golden Compass

New Line has released the first five minutes of The Golden Compass online for your viewing pleasure.

I was able to see the first film adaptation from Philip Pullman’s controversial “His Dark Materials” trilogy on Saturday, and we hope to have a FightCast review up on Tuesday.  But I will say this: my feelings are very mixed. It wasn’t a complete failure, nor was it a home run. And this video clip gives you a good indication of the feel of the movie.

Watch the first five minutes after the jump.
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Cool Posts From Around the Web:

The Golden Compass has posted a new behind the scenes package for The Golden Compass (Movie Trailer, Poster). The five minute video is not a traditional EPK featurette, but instead a compilation of behind the scenes footage and film clips. They show a bunch of comparisons between green screen and final effects footage. I’m really starting to get pumped for this movie. Check out the footage after the jump.

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The Golden Compass Movie

Remember how we told you last night that the first movie trailer for The Golden Compass would be attached to Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End? Well the trailer is available now. The new trailer uses a comparison to Lord of the Rings to get people psyched. Check it out after the jump.

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The first movie trailer for The Golden Compass will be released on Friday Thursday Night with Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End. From what we hear, it’s more of a teaser trailer than anything else. We posted a sizzle reel from the film a few months back which basically consisted of some unfinished effects shots. So if you haven’t already, check that out.

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