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".

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

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Israeli-born actress Gal Gadot has been cast to play Wonder Woman
film
News
Top Gear presenter James May appears to be struggling with his new-found free time
people
Arts and Entertainment
Kendrick Lamar at the Made in America Festival in Los Angeles last summer
music
Arts and Entertainment
'Marley & Me' with Jennifer Aniston and Owen Wilson
film
Arts and Entertainment
Jon Hamm (right) and John Slattery in the final series of Mad Men
tv
Arts and Entertainment
theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Place Blanche, Paris, 1961, shot by Christer Strömholm
photographyHow the famous camera transformed photography for ever
Arts and Entertainment
The ‘Westmacott Athlete’
art
Arts and Entertainment
‘The Royals’ – a ‘twisted, soapy take on England’s first family’
tv Some of the characters appear to have clear real-life counterparts
News
Brooks is among a dozen show-business professionals ever to have achieved Egot status
people
Arts and Entertainment
A cut above: Sean Penn is outclassed by Mark Rylance in The Gunman
film review
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
James Franco and Zachary Quinto in I Am Michael

Film review Michael Glatze biopic isn't about a self-hating gay man gone straight

Arts and Entertainment
A scene from the movie 'Get Hard'
tvWill Ferrell’s new film Get Hard receives its first reviews
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: David Cameron (Mark Dexter), Nick Clegg (Bertie Carvel) and Gordon Brown (Ian Grieve)
tvReview: Ian Grieve gets another chance to play Gordon Brown... this is the kinder version
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman in the first look picture from next year's Sherlock special

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Because it wouldn’t be Glastonbury without people kicking off about the headline acts, a petition has already been launched to stop Kanye West performing on the Saturday night

music
Arts and Entertainment
Molly Risker, Helen Monks, Caden-Ellis Wall, Rebekah Staton, Erin Freeman, Philip Jackson and Alexa Davies in ‘Raised by Wolves’

TV review
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
James May, Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond in the Top Gear Patagonia Special

TV
  • Get to the point
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.

    No postcode? No vote

    Floating voters

    How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
    Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

    By Reason of Insanity

    Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
    Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

    Power dressing is back

    But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
    Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

    Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

    Caves were re-opened to the public
    'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

    Vince Cable interview

    'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
    Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

    Promises, promises

    But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
    The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

    The death of a Gaza fisherman

    He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
    Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
    Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

    The only direction Zayn could go

    We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
    Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

    Spells like teen spirit

    A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
    Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
    Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

    Licence to offend in the land of the free

    Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
    From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

    From farm to fork in Cornwall

    One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
    Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

    Robert Parker interview

    The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor