Category Archives: The Golden Compass

Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials to be a BBC Mini-Series

A few weeks back I was in touch with Philip Pullman about something (possibly taking a sabbatical in Oxford if you must know:) and he ended by saying there would soon be some “interesting” news. Well that news is out and it is more than interesting, it is thrilling. The BBC has green-lighted a new mini-series of Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy, starting with the first one; in the US it is known as The Golden Compass. I’ve long felt that a mini-series was ideal for a screen adaptation, especially after the disappointing movie. I loved the National Theater’s version, the full-cast audio production (my go-to comfort listening), and the first graphic novel version that recently came out. What with all the other wonderful recent fantasy mini-series, it seemed overdue for the right people to do this one. And now they will!  From the Variety piece:

“His Dark Materials” is the first commission from Bad Wolf, a U.K./U.S. production company founded by former BBC executives Jane Tranter and Julie Gardner, and co-sited in South Wales and Los Angeles. The show is New Line’s first move into British television. The series will be executive produced by Pullman, Tranter and Gardner for Bad Wolf, Toby Emmerich and Carolyn Blackwood for New Line Cinema, and Deborah Forte for Scholastic.

Pullman said: “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.”

He added: “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. And the sheer talent now working in the world of long-form television is formidable.

“For all those reasons I’m delighted at the prospect of a television version of ‘His Dark Materials.’ I’m especially pleased at the involvement of Jane Tranter, whose experience, imagination, and drive are second to none. As for the BBC, it has no stronger supporter than me. I couldn’t be more pleased with this news.”



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Philip Pullman’s The Golden Compass, the Graphic Novel

I first heard about The Golden Compass being turned into a graphic novel months back when Philip Pullman tweeted that the first volume had won a French prize. Finding more information, I wrote the post, “Philip Pullman Said Yes”; soon thereafter got an ARC and was blown away by it. Now the book is out and everyone should get a chance to be equally blown away. It is the work of Clément Oubrerie, a French graphic novelist and a fabulous comic adaptation of a remarkable story. Looking at his blog, I see the second volume is due out this June — in France and in French — not sure when the English version will be out.  You can see some of his sketches for this second volume herehere, and here, They are spectacular (especially Lyra and Iorek Byrnison) and I can’t wait to see the finished work.



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Biometric Daemons

Pantalaimon, avert your eyes.

According to this article, a couple of professors have come up with a new device “inspired by the Philip Pullman fantasy novels – recently turned into the hit film The Golden Compass – which include animal daemons which are physical representations of character’s souls.”  They have in mind “… biometric daemons [that] could carry people’s personal details and replace pin numbers and passwords for everyday transactions, reacting to different levels of risk and becoming stressed and eventually dying if they are apart from their owner.”

According to one of the professors, Dr. Clark,  “The idea of the daemon is that it is a living credit card,” he said. “It would recognise it is with you, and if you put it in your pocket, it can recognise your walk and your voice.”

And would it also know what is in my heart?

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Want a Cuddly Iorek?

Look no further. Walmark has packaged this little cutie with The Golden Compass DVD released today. Together for just $19.96!

What’s that you say? Iorek isn’t suppose to be cute? Or cuddly?

Who cares; it is a Beanie Baby, a collectible!


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Waiting for (More) Lyra: ‘Compass’ spins foreign frenzy

Seems as if my wishful dreaming for film adaptations of The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass is not totally hopeless. Here are some heartening excerpts from ‘Compass’ spins foreign frenzy” in yesterday’s Variety.

After its strong start in Japan last week, “The Golden Compass” is on course to make box office history as the first film to gross $300 million in foreign while failing to reach $100 million in North America.

As producer Deborah Forte points out, with a global gross heading for $375 million-$400 million and an Oscar to its name, “Golden Compass” counts as a success by most yardsticks — just not necessarily for New Line.

With a downsized New Line set to become Warner label, the intriguing question is now whether Warner toppers will see past the domestic flop and greenlight the second and third installments of Philip Pullman‘s “His Dark Materials” trilogy — “The Subtle Knife” and “The Amber Spyglass” — based on those boffo foreign grosses.

Indeed, Warner, the studio behind “Harry Potter,” may turn out to be a better home for the Pullman franchise than New Line ever was.

Clearly, “Golden Compass” was not as unmarketable as the U.S. figures would suggest. “If the movie really wasn’t up to snuff, it wouldn’t have done $300 million,” Forte says.

Excuses that fantasy pics often do better in foreign, or that the film’s perceived anti-God message was a more powerful negative in the U.S., have a certain truth, but can’t fully explain the unprecedented gulf.

It’s hard to avoid the conclusion that the foreign indies such as Entertainment in the U.K., Metropolitan in France, Tripictures in Spain, 01 in Italy and Gaga in Japan, not to mention Warner in Germany, simply did a better job of understanding and positioning “Golden Compass” as a family film, and heading off the potential problems in advance, than New Line’s domestic team did.

Forte notes, “We probably underperformed in the U.S., and we performed according to expectations outside the U.S. Why? It’s so hard to tell. People say fantasy does much better overseas, and that the book was much better known, but I’m not sure either is true. The book was really only known in the U.K. and Australia. Most of the foreign distributors built awareness from scratch.”

It’s hard to imagine the folks at Warner Intl. rubbing their hands at the prospect of more of the same from a downsized New Line. But they might welcome “The Subtle Knife,” the second book in Pullman’s trilogy, for which Hossein Amini has already written a script, and the final installment “The Amber Spyglass.”

New Line’s foreign distribs would certainly snap up the sequels, if offered. If Warner gives the greenlight, the overseas indies won’t get a look-in, but should Warner put the rest of the trilogy into turnaround, there’s a ready-made independent market for the pics.

One way or another, Forte won’t give up the fight. “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.”

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Waiting for (More)Lyra: American and the Rest of the World

Cultural insights from the box office – Opinion –
■ There’s a case for making part two of The Golden Compass. Its budget was $230 million. In America it made $90 million (most of its accents are British and it was labelled anti-religious). In the rest of the world it was a hit, making $330 million. It’s the world’s 75th biggest moneymaker of all time, well ahead of Passion Of The Christ (90). The Golden Compass ended on a cliffhanger. The plot can’t be resolved without American money.

Can Hollywood rise above xenophobia and lift the world off the edge?

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The Golden Compass Movie: The Director Defends

From FishbowlLA

Director Chris Weitz writes the Atlantic’s editors a stern letter regarding Hanna Rosin’s piece about The Golden Compass. He calls it a hatchet job, and complains that she accused him of “selling out” author Philip Pullman’s books. Rosin replies, claiming that she was just trying to explain how hard it was to make a profitable movie, but not offend the religious types who Pullman distains.

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The Golden Compass Movie: Philip Pullman on ‘Story’ versus ‘literature’

Philip Pullman speaks up for the narrator and argues that ‘literature’ is what a film director must leave out when translating a ‘story’ into a movie.

Story’ versus ‘literature’ | Book club | Guardian Unlimited Books

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John Mulland Talks with Philip Pullman About His Dark Materials

Philip Pullman talks with John Mullan of the Guardian Book Club about writing, reading, narrators, Milton, daemons, Mrs. Coulter, angels’ taste in food, among many other things (and gives a very intriguing little hint about on extra bit in his forthcoming book Once Upon a Time in the North).

Guardian Unlimited: Arts blog – books: Guardian book club podcast: Philip Pullman

See also:

John Mullan on “Borrowing from Paradise Lost” and “Other Worlds.”

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The Golden Compass Movie: A Gleam of Hope

New Line Cinema’s “The Golden Compass” Swings Past $100 Million Mark at International Box Office

Fingers crossed (for the next two movies).

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