Interview: Mark Johnson from “The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian”
Interview: Mark Johnson from “The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian”

The Massie Twins recently sat down to interview producer Mark Johnson from the new film “The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian,” during the 2007 San Diego Comic-Con.

 

Mark Johnson: Did you guys get to see the footage downstairs? I think this one is very different from the last one; they’re meant to be connected but it’s a little bit darker and a little more grown up and I hope that came across in the footage.

The Massie Twins: Yes, we did and we were quite impressed. Was that a conscious decision between Adam and you, or was that inspired by the book?

MJ: It’s a combination of the two. Prince Caspian discovers that his uncle killed his father, so it gets a little more Shakespearean. We felt the first one was a very well made Hollwood movie, and we wanted to play with it a bit. It has emotional moments and there’s more action in this one and it’s tough because in the last one it was against creatures, and in this one its against humans, and it makes it a little more difficult, but of course there’s no blood and nothing really graphic.

MT: Is it still going to be PG?

MJ: Yes, it’d better be. (Laughs)

MT: Did it help having the first one under you belt, or was the bar being raised so much that this was like an entirely new film?

MJ: You can’t assume anything. The goal is still to make a good movie, it has to be different and the people that saw and enjoyed the first one, you want it to enrich them and have them understand Narnia better, and at the same time it better work for someone who’s never heard of the first one. The challenge is always to make a good movie with compelling characters.

MT: Have you stepped up the special effects for this film?

MJ: I think so. Dean and Howard will tell you, their characters are more sophisticated and we do more with them. We wanted to do more action, and we wanted to add more creatures. They’ve always got to have plausibility. Andrew’s big thing is always looking at the legs and making sure that they work in a way that they support the creature. Reepicheep is going to be the most memorable character in the movie. He’s a two foot rat. He thinks he’s Sir Gallahad. Because we have a more human cast for this, we’re able to bring in a lot of really strong actors.

MT: How have the four kids changed since the first one?

MJ: The one who’s changed the most was Georgie who was 8 years old when we did that movie. She’s more aware of acting than she was in the last one. William, who plays Peter has such a big heart. Skandar is 15 and he’s interested in his stuff; they’re still a family but the dynamic is different. Anna who’s 18 is going off to Oxford in October. We’ll see if she goes on as an actress or if she becomes a doctor.

MT: With these films that have such a huge budget and production, how do you keep it all under control?

MJ: It’s really hard, because the temptation is to say that it’s got to be larger than the last one, but that doesn’t mean you’ve got to spend more money. It’s got to be bigger in terms of themes and characters. It’s scary when you’re working at this budget level. Everyone pays such close attention to it all. In between The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and Prince Caspian, I’ve produced three other movies. One of them is a movie with Richard Gere and Terence Howard that opens in September that we did in Croatia, and we did it in a fraction of what this film costs. It’s great to exercise those muscles and remind yourself that it’s not about the money.

MT: How did you handle the religious themes in the film?

MJ: The themes speak to everybody whether they’re religious or not. In the first one there are there parallels with Aslan as a Christ figure. Sure, but then there are people who either didn’t make those connections or it never even occurred to them. It’s the strength of the books. They’re important to a lot of people, Christian or not.

MT: Why won’t Andrew Adamson be returning as director for the third film?

MJ: He couldn’t physically do the third one, because we’re starting it in January, and he’ll still be editing this one. I also think that he’s now going to become a producer with me. This one opens in May of next year, and Voyage of the Dawn Treader opens in May of the following year, and very possibly the following May we’ll have The Silver Chair.