Second Narnia film ‘better than first’
Despite more weather issues and a tighter schedule, Andrew Adamson thinks his second Narnia film is better than his first.
The Aucklander’s first Narnia film, The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, grossed $US739 million ($NZ960.86 million) worldwide, continuing his superb record for the man who is also behind the Shrek series. All four of his films have grossed at least $US450 million.
The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe was Adamson’s first live action film and he’s confident he’s done a better job with the second film based on CS Lewis’ popular Narnia books, Prince Caspian.
Darker and more complex in tone, it tells of the return of the four Pevensie siblings to Narnia. Though they have grown only one year older, 1300 Narnian years have passed, and the Pevensies find Narnia has been taken over by men called the Telmarines. It is the Pevensies’ job to help the rightful Telmarine king, Prince Caspian, claim the throne.
“It’s more complex, bigger, more epic film, and a little more emotional. The last one had its emotionally intense moments, but this film just seems a little more character-based,” Adamson said.
“Last time there was a big story of good and evil and it was symbolic. This time it is more human. Even within the evil there’s three schools with their own agendas, which made it a more intriguing story I think. It’s nice to have those politics as part of the evil.”
Unlike the first film, for which the vast majority was shot in New Zealand, only a small proportion was filmed in Adamson’s homeland this time.
Most of the film was shot in the Czech Republic, Germany and Slovenia, in part for the supposedly more stable weather where changes were easy to see.
“It ended up to be completely not true,” he said.
“There was one location we shot near the border of Germany, it was near a mountain range, and the weather changed so much I swore I was in New Zealand. We would go through days where we would start in the sun and have hail in the afternoon.
“I think basically as soon as you turn a camera on it creates some kind of disturbance in the ether and the weather just goes chaotic. I was thinking of offering my services to nations dealing with drought.”
Another reason for moving out of New Zealand was to access a better sound stage. The upgraded Henderson studio had not been finished when Prince Caspian was made, but Adamson said it still wasn’t quite big enough for a big production.
“The stage itself is big, but we were shooting in Prague on I think eight stages,” he said.
“There are films that are contained within one environment, but in my case there would be sets I was building that I would only shoot on for 3-4 days.
“Those sets may take a month to build, or two months to build, so in some cases you really need that space to be able to keep up with the shoot.”
Adamson also faced having three fewer months to finish post-production work (which includes effects by Weta Digital), and eventually finished all the editing three days before the film’s world premiere.
But he made it on time and on budget, in part with the help of a different editing screen.
“Usually you edit watching a small screen and you find yourself subconsciously making decisions based on that screen size,” he said.
“This time I actually edited the whole film high definition, and I actually had a projection screen in my editorial suite, so most of the time I was actually looking at a 24 inch screen.
“It just meant I had a tendency to stay in wider shots. It was kind of like forcing myself to go through that educational experience and it was really helpful.”
So far Prince Caspian has done respectable trade, grossing about $US100 million in its first two weeks.
“We may have opened the film a little bit too early in the US because it’s a family film and there isn’t a school that’s out yet in the US,” the film’s American co-producer Mark Johnson said.
“It’ll ultimately get to where we want it to, it’ll just be a little bit slower.”
Work is now under way on the third film in the series, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, which will have one major difference to the first two – Adamson will not be directing, choosing as he did for Shrek 3 to be a producer.
It will instead be helmed by British director Michael Apted, best-known for the 7-Up documentary series but also the director of a Bond film, The Coal Miner’s Daughter and Gorillas In The Mist.
“It will be hard for me because Andrew is a great partner and he’s become a true friend and I just adore him. I’d walk through fire for him,” Johnson said.
“But I’m excited that Michael is with us. He primarily started as a documentarian but I think of his movies really standing out for their performances and I think that’s what the Dawn Treader can really take advantage of.”
Johnson said Apted had scouted New Zealand for locations and there was a chance some of the third film would be shot here. However, two thirds of the film will be shot at a specialist water tank for film making in Mexico as it is mainly set at sea.
Adamson will be moving back to Auckland in July, in part to have a break but mainly for the benefit of his wife and two daughters, aged five and 2½.
He plans to take a long break before even considering what his next move is, which could be a much smaller budget film.
“I’ve been very fortunate with the financial success of my films and the feedback is generally positive. But already there is a little bit more negativity based on the fact we’ve been successful. People start to be a little bit more contrary,” he said.
“It’s all about expectation. It’s one of the problems of life in general, to keep your expectations in check, because that’s the thing that’s going to make you unhappy.
“People have these ridiculously high expectations based on former success, and that’s why to some degree I’m looking forward to doing something that doesn’t carry the weight of all those expectations.” [stuff]