Christian protests may leave Philip Pullman's trilogy as one of a kind

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

Perhaps it has disappeared through a window into another universe, like its characters.

It looked increasingly unlikely yesterday that cinema audiences in this world will get to see the planned film sequels in Philip Pullman's children's fantasy trilogy, His Dark Materials.

Sources in the film industry said that plans for a sequel to The Golden Compass appeared to have been put on ice following the fervent Christian protests surrounding the first film, which led to boycotts and box office disappointment in the United States.

Pullman told The Independent that he had not yet been contacted by Shepperton Studios and was not aware of any imminent plans to film the sequel, The Subtle Knife. When the first film was in production last year, he was regularly contacted by Chris Weitz, its writer and director.

"I know everyone would like to see a sequel and I know I'd like to see it. When the first film was in production, I was talking to the studio and to Chris Weitz and producers quite frequently. I'm sure I would be now if the sequel was in production," he said.

Weitz said yesterday he did not want talk about the project while the studio responsible for the first film was refusing to discuss the future of the trilogy.

When The Golden Compass was release last year, New Line Cinema had high hopes for the trilogy as the new The Lord of the Rings, and the sequel was due to be released by the end of 2009.

But then the Christian boycotts started and the film sunk in the US, making a meagre $70m (£35m), although it took a hefty $300m internationally. New Line has since been merged with Warner Brothers.



Pullman said he would be dismayed if the original cast, which included Nicole Kidman and the then 12-year-old lead child star, Dakota Blue Richards, were not able to reprise their roles. "The problem with having a child in the cast is that time goes by very quickly, [and they change]... I would love to see her [Dakota] carry on the story and I'd love to see Nicole Kidman fulfil the full development of her character," he said.

If the sequel to his trilogy, His Dark Materials, was not made with the original cast, Pullman said he would harbour hopes for a sequel in the future with a fresh cast that may not meet the same level of religious protest.

The plot of the three books revolves around a fantasy world where the Reformation has never happened. This parallel universe of talking animals and witches is ruled by an oppressive Catholic institution known as the Magisterium. The challenges to religious institutions become more confrontational with every book in the trilogy, culminating with a war on heaven. Weitz, an American-born Cambridge graduate, has been vociferous in his passion for Pullman's original text, insisting on staying "true" to the trilogy if or when sequels are made. This outspokenness may have added to the studio's wariness.

Pullman said protests in America had done little to help its release, with parents protesting against the allegorical challenges to the Catholic faith. "There was a lot of fuss over that," he said.

Dan Jolin, the features editor of Empire magazine, who accompanied Weitz in the cutting room last October, said at the time that Weitz was determined to make a sequel, having saved material from the first film. Weitz told Jolin that Pullman's trilogy was influenced by Milton, and that Northern Lights, the book on which The Golden Compass is based, "is this rather beautiful idea that God kind of left all these spare bits lying around and that, for all we know, there are other universes".

Michael Gubbins, the editor of Screen International, said it was unlikely that the film could be brought out by next year, especially in a tough box office environment with "trilogy congestion" in following months, but that the franchise was likely to be revisited in the future.



Watch a clip of His Dark Materials: The Golden Compass





Other cinematic 'blasphemers'

The Life of Brian (1979)

The tale of an innocent Jewish man mistaken for Christ when the three wise men go to the wrong manger was damned as blasphemous on its release. The Monty Python team maintained it spoofed Biblical films, rather than Christianity.

The Last Temptation of Christ (1988)

Scenes in which Jesus fantasises on the cross about living as a married man and having children with Mary Magdalene sparked the fury of the US church and religious right.

Dogma (1999)

The satire about two fallen angels seeking to get back into heaven via an obscure loophole sparked protests in Britain, the United States and France.

The Da Vinci Code (2006)

The Vatican appointed an archbishop to rebut "shameful and unfounded errors".

Arts and Entertainment
Nick Hewer is to leave The Apprentice after 10 years

TV review Nick Hewer, the man whose eyebrows speak a thousand words, is set to leave The Apprentice

Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says

film George RR Martin owns a cinema in Santa Fe

Arts and Entertainment
Clued up: John Lynch and Gillian Anderson in ‘The Fall’

TV review

Arts and Entertainment
The Baker (James Corden) struggles with Lilla Crawford’s Little Red Riding Hood

film...all the better to bamboozle us
Arts and Entertainment
English: Romantic Landscape

art
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Mark, Katie and Sanjay in The Apprentice boardroom
TV
Arts and Entertainment

Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites

Arts and Entertainment
Frances O'Connor and James Nesbitt in 'The Missing'

TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations

Arts and Entertainment
Joey Essex will be hitting the slopes for series two of The Jump

TV

Who is taking the plunge?
Arts and Entertainment
Katy Perry as an Ancient Egyptian princess in her latest music video for 'Dark Horse'

music
Arts and Entertainment
Dame Judi Dench, as M in Skyfall

film
Arts and Entertainment
Morrissey, 1988

TV
Arts and Entertainment
William Pooley from Suffolk is flying out to Free Town, Sierra Leone, to continue working in health centres to fight Ebola after surviving the disease himself

music
Arts and Entertainment
The Newsroom creator Aaron Sorkin

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Matt Berry (centre), the star of Channel 4 sitcom 'Toast of London'

TVA disappointingly dull denouement
Arts and Entertainment
Tales from the cryptanalyst: Benedict Cumberbatch in 'The Imitation Game'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Pixie Lott has been voted off Strictly Come Dancing 2014

Strictly
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
    Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

    Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

    As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
    The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

    The Interview movie review

    You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
    Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

    How podcasts became mainstream

    People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

    Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
    Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

    A memorable year for science – if not for mice

    The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
    Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

    Christmas cocktails to make you merry

    Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
    5 best activity trackers

    Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

    Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
    Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

    Paul Scholes column

    It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
    Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

    Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

    2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

    Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

    The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
    Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

    Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

    The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
    Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

    The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

    Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas