I noticed in the film clips that, more so than the book, the beginning of the movie plays up the war from which the kids are being sent away. Was that an intentional choice, to relate it to some of the fears we face today?
Louis makes such as short mention of it in the book, because that's all you needed to back in those days, because it was so fresh in everyone's mind. Sadly, I think it's forgotten by many people--the heroism and the courage people went through in the U.K. Something like 10 percent of people who died in the blitz were kids. We thought it was really important to establish that here are these kids who are caught in this war that they have no control over. And they head into a situation where they do have control.
We have a great website, Walden.com, where you can see educators' discussions, which are pretty awesome. There's one there from a librarian in Louisiana, who said she's been using "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe" to help kids adjust to life after Katrina, and drawing the parallels between Katrina and the blitz of London--this incredible devastation that upset lives. In the film, we have a big poster that we got from the Imperial War Museum in London that says, "Housing evacuees is a national service." And that was the headline we read for several weeks after Katrina.
That's why the company exists--to use the film to create a spark and get people interested in asking the big questions
There's been a lot written about the film's marketing approach, which is different for faith communities and the secular media. How did that come about?
For all of our films--going back to Holes and Winn-Dixie--we've had grassroots outreach to a number of communities: schools, libraries, churches, parent organizations, after-school groups. For Narnia, it's the same approach, except, like the film, everything's magnified.
Disney has had a lot of outreach, with a lot of their movies, to the faith community. I saw Bill Paxton, the director of "The Greatest Game Ever Played," the golf movie that came out in October, on "Hour of Power" [a televangelist broadcast] talking about his film. So it's a new day, I think, for all these films, in the day and age of TiVo.
What do you mean by that?
About 90 percent of any film's advertising budget is spent on television commercials, and so that's the main way they expect to get through to people. TiVo and the digital video recorders are gaining rapid adoption, and estimates there are up to three-quarters of the people who have TiVo don't watch a single television commercial. So it's not that much of a leap to realize that 90 percent of your strategy is now out the window. So how are you going to get your message out to people? It's grassroots.
The church itself is changing so much in terms of how it uses popular culture to convey a message. In recent weeks, my pastor has used everything from a U2 song to "The Apprentice" to get something topical and relevant.
Our expertise here is education. So we have a very good idea of how to use the film and make it relevant and applicable to the book. In terms of how the film can be used at church, we're out of our depth there. We really don't know how church and parachurch leaders are going to use the film. We offer no advice on how to do that. We just want to make sure everyone--whether a librarian in Louisiana or a pastor in San Francisco--understands we have this film, and film is a very powerful medium for all different kinds of things.