Catholic League’s Bill Donohue claims “Golden Compass” boycott a success.

I told you they’d try to claim it as a success:

“Boycott Worked”: Compass Flops – Opening Weekend $26 Million; Narnia $63 Million

NEW YORK, December 10, 2007 ( – ‘The Golden Compass”, the atheist-inspired film which sought to replicate Narnia’s success at the box office at Christmas two years ago has flopped by comparison.  Based on the anti-Christian novel by Philip Pullman, Compass took in $26.1 million in its first weekend, whereas ‘The Chronicles of Narnia’ garnered $65.5 million on its weekend debut.

The Catholic League, which organized a boycott of the controversial film, as it would lead children to reading the anti-Christian books, saw the poor box office showing as evidence of a successful boycott. League President Bill Donohue said, “Our goal was to stop ‘The Golden Compass’ from meeting box office expectations, and we succeeded.”

Donohue suggested that considering ‘The Golden Compass’ “cost $180 million to produce, and another $30-$40 million in advertising, the inescapable conclusion is that our boycott worked.”

“All we heard from the chattering class over the past few weeks was that our boycott would have the reverse effect of enticing more people to see the film,” said Donohue.

Donohue concluded: “Let this be a lesson to militant atheists like Pullman: keep your hollow beliefs to yourself. And ease up on demonizing Catholicism-no other religion has done more to promote human rights, science and goodwill.”

Yeah, those Inquisitions awhile back are famous for their promotion of human rights and goodwill and all those Catholic missionaries telling the folks in Africa not to use condoms because they’re being intentionally tainted with AIDS and won’t protect them anyway is doing wonders for the promotion of science.

Give me a fucking break.

“The Golden Compass” isn’t doing so well.

It appears as though The Golden Compass isn’t exactly raking in the cash:

There was no Saturday miracle surge for New Line. The Golden Compass, an effects-laden family film starring Nicole Kidman with a reported budget of $200M, received a modest 16% increase from its opening day, posting an estimated $10.2M on Saturday. Assuming a Sunday drop of 33%, Compass will finish its opening weekend with a disastrous $25.84M. (For a comparison to other big budget, family-oriented films in this mold along with details about New Line’s dismal 2007 and Nicole Kidman’s box office cold streak, scroll down to my Friday Night report.)

Disney’s Enchanted blew past $80M domestic with a $4.9M Saturday, and the live action/animation hybrid with a sure-fire Oscar nomination for Amy Adams will cruise to an estimated $10.98M. This Christmas (Sony), Fred Claus (Warner Bros) and Beowulf (Dreamworks/Paramount) have finished 3-4-5 on Saturday and for the 3-day frame.

The reason appears to have more to do with the movie being not all that great as opposed to any effects of a boycott, though you can be sure that the Catholic league and the Evangelicals will claim their boycotts were successful. Most of the reviews I’ve read have said that the movie is technically stunning to look at, but just doesn’t have the spark you’d expect it to have. It’s currently holding a 43% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

It’s probably a safe bet that, unless it does really well overseas, the sequels will probably fail to materialize. Which is a shame as it’d be interesting to see how they’d handle the follow ups given the increasingly anti-religious tone the contain. At the moment it doesn’t appear we’ll ever find out.

How’s this for irony? Catholic film ciritics liked “The Golden Compass.”

If ever there was a sure sign that the movie version of The Golden Compass has had most of its anti-religion tone ripped out by its roots it’s the fact that two Catholic film critics who write for the Catholic News Service are giving the film high praise. Needless to say some folks aren’t happy about that:

“Two weeks ago there was a lot of buzz about a boycott, but now the talk is about the review,” said Joe Towalski, editor of the Catholic Spirit, the newspaper of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.

And a lot of it is angry talk. The Rev. Thomas Euteneuer, president of Front Royal, Va.-based Human Life International, which describes its mission as “upholding the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church,” used his website to call for the dismissal of movie critics Harry Forbes and John Mulderig of the Catholic News Service, the church’s official news arm. Their review raved about the movie while dismissing concerns that Phillip Pullman, the author of the fantasy trilogy on which it’s based, is a professed atheist who is on record as saying, “My books are about killing God.”

In particular, the review noted the movie departed from Pullman’s book in its explicit references to the church. “Most moviegoers with no foreknowledge of the books or Pullman’s personal belief system will scarcely be aware of religious connotations, and can approach the movie as a pure fantasy-adventure,” they said, adding: “… this film—altered, as it is, from its source material—rates as intelligent and well-crafted entertainment.”

Forbes and Mulderig “have summarily put our hierarchy on record as giving glowing praise to the work of a militant atheist,” Euteneuer told the Star Tribune. “This is utterly irresponsible.”

No, they gave praise to a seriously watered down movie based on the work of an atheist. Still it’s fun to see the Catholics arguing amongst themselves over something as stupid as a movie. For all the talk of how strong the Christian faithful are in their beliefs you’d think this movie was causing people to become instant atheists with the way they’re reacting to it.

And mad props to DaBroad for linking to this article in another thread.

AFA is scared shitless of “The Golden Compass.”

SEB regular DaBroad dropped by with a couple of links to articles about a warning from the American Family Association about the upcoming release of The Golden Compass. It seems they’re the latest religious group to get their panties all in a twist over this movie without even having seen it yet. They’re so in a panic that they put out this drastic warning to parents:

Therefore, without yet seeing the film, at least one pro-family group—the American Family Association—is alerting Christians to the potential dangers of The Golden Compass. Because of Pullman’s clearly articulated anti-Christian motives, AFA is warning all viewers to run from the film.

Potential dangers? Viewers should run from the film? Makes it sound like Godzilla is attacking or something. The way their talking you’d think that this film had some sort of unholy power to deconvert people into atheists within the span of an hour and a half or something. It leaves you wondering just how fragile their faith really must be if they’re that worried that a single film will cause so much damage to innocent young Christians. Whatever happened to their unshakable faith in Christianity that they’re so upset over one little film that will, by all reports, have its anti-religious message watered down to the point of not really being there to begin with?

Of course it’s not so much the adults they’re worried about, it’s the kids. They know they’ve got to get ‘em while they’re young and you can’t afford to allow any competing ideas get in their heads or something akin to common sense or the questioning of authority might take hold. This is made clear in the second link provided by DaBroad to an article about the film at

One of the prominent themes of the book is “Dust,” a mysterious “charged particle” from the sky. In the closing chapters of the book, the protagonist, Lyra, finally learns that Dust is “the physical evidence for original sin”; and Dust is what powers her “alethiometer” (the golden-colored, compass-looking device for which the book is named). From the Greek, alethiometer means “truth-measurer.” It is a device she consults, through a kind of clairvoyant process, to learn secrets and discover truths; it never lies or misleads. Dust and the alethiometer—central symbols in this book—together send the clear message that truth is measured by the power of original sin. In the closing pages, Lyra decides that Dust is a good thing after all, and she determines to go on and defend this original sin against the Church. Thus we are ushered into the second book.

This is certainly not a message we want our children to take to heart. Still, we cannot lose sight of the fact that Pullman is working on our turf when he tells his tale. I’ll gladly stand up our story against his! The story of Christ has drama, it has strong characters, it has relevance, it has a truly stupendous surprise ending—in short, all the elements of great story. Best of all, it’s not fiction. It happened! So we need not respond defensively, or with anger, or by picketing the movie, or with any of the worldly methods Paul warned against in 2 Corinthians 10. This is the time—especially since the movie is coming out at Christmastime—for us to tell the true story of Jesus Christ, in love and with a positive tone.

I’ve read both the Bible and all three books in the His Dark Materials trilogy now and I have to say that the former pales in comparison to the latter in terms of enjoyability, but then some might say I’m biased.

These folks, however, are most upset that Scholastic is involved in helping to promote the book with materials offered to schools:

Yet there is a limit, and Christian parents ought to stand guard on behalf of the next generation. The Golden Compass—book or movie—does not belong in our schools.

Again it’s interesting to note how fragile they consider their religion to be that it needs such efforts on their part to keep it protected even from total fictions that challenge it. At least with Pullman’s works he’s not trying to pretend it’s reality.

I just started reading…

The Golden Compass today. Anne ordered the box set from the other day after hearing about it from me and she’s already well into the second book. So I’m playing catch up at this point, but it’ll give me something to do during the occasional downtime at work.

I’ll post about it some more as I get into it further.

“The Golden Compass” criticized as “atheism for kids.”

So have you seen the trailer yet for The Golden Compass? If not then here it is below:

Until I saw the trailer I’d never heard of the books the movie is based on — a trilogy called His Dark Materials — and the first time I saw the trailer I wrote it off as a Chronicles of Narnia wannabe. The only reason I might have had for seeing it in theaters is that Courtney was very excited about the movie. As it turns out, though, I may have to go see it out of my own curiosity now that I’ve learned that the books have a somewhat anti-organized religion tone to them and are written by an avowed atheist.

It seems the movie has been a cause of concern for our good friend and Catholic League president, Bill Donohue, prompting him to put out a press release advising parents not to take their kids to see the film:

“New Line Cinema and Scholastic Entertainment have paired to produce ‘The Golden Compass,’ a children’s fantasy that is based on the first book of a trilogy by militant English atheist Philip Pullman. The trilogy, His Dark Materials, was written to promote atheism and denigrate Christianity, especially Roman Catholicism. The target audience is children and adolescents. Each book becomes progressively more aggressive in its denigration of Christianity and promotion of atheism: The Subtle Knife is more provocative than The Golden Compass and The Amber Spyglass is the most in-your-face assault on Christian sensibilities of the three volumes.

“Atheism for kids. That is what Philip Pullman sells. It is his hope that ‘The Golden Compass,’ which stars Nicole Kidman and opens December 7, will entice parents to buy his trilogy as a Christmas gift. It is our hope that the film fails to meet box office expectations and that his books attract few buyers. We are doing much more than hoping—we are conducting a nationwide two-month protest of Pullman’s work and the film. To that end, we have prepared a booklet, ‘The Golden Compass: Agenda Unmasked,’ that tears the mask off the movie.

“It is not our position that the movie will strike Christian parents as troubling. Then why the protest? Even though the film is based on the least offensive of the three books, and even though it is clear that the producers are watering down the most despicable elements—so as to make money and not anger Christians—the fact remains that the movie is bait for the books. To be specific, if unsuspecting Christian parents take their children to see the movie, they may very well find it engaging and then buy Pullman’s books for Christmas. That’s the problem.

“We are fighting a deceitful stealth campaign on the part of the film’s producers. Our goal is to educate Christians so that they know exactly what the film’s pernicious agenda really is.”

Wow, anything that gets Bill’s panties in a bunch like that might be worth seeing, but as it turns out he’s quite right that the filmmakers have toned down the anti-religious aspects of the story somewhat. According to some folks it’s been watered down a bit too much:

Northern Lights, the book which first introduced readers to Pullman’s 12-year-old heroine, Lyra, is as dear to its many fans as JRR Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings and JK Rowling’s Harry Potter saga, so tampering with the philosophical content is not likely to be welcomed when the film is released before Christmas.

While Pullman himself has said he believes ‘the outline of the story is faithful to what I wrote, given my knowledge of what they have done’, the National Secular Society – of which the author is an honorary associate – has now spoken out against the changes.

‘It was clear right from the start that the makers of this film intended to take out the anti-religious elements of Pullman’s book,’ said Terry Sanderson, president of the society. ‘In doing that they are taking the heart out of it, losing the point of it, castrating it. It seems that religion has now completely conquered America’s cultural life and it is much the poorer for it. What a shame that we have to endure such censorship here too.’

Kidman has said the critical stance of the film ‘has been watered down a little … I was raised Catholic, the Catholic Church is part of my essence,’ she told film journalists in Australia in the summer. ‘I wouldn’t be able to do this film if I thought it were at all anti-Catholic.’

At a preview of footage staged at the Cannes Film Festival in the spring, director Chris Weitz, best known for directing About A Boy, said the film would be a fair retelling of Pullman’s tale.

‘In the books the Magisterium is a version of the Catholic church gone wildly astray from its roots. If that’s what you want in the film, you’ll be disappointed,’ he admitted, but added: ‘We have expanded the range of meanings of what the Magisterium represents. Philip Pullman is against any kind of organised dogma whether it is church hierarchy or, say, a Soviet hierarchy.’

That’s disappointing to say the least, but as Bill Donahue points out there’s always a chance some kids will be inclined to pick up the books after seeing the movies. I’ll have to make a point of picking them up myself as well. The film is still causing enough concern among the Religious Right that several emails have been circulating around warning about its anti-Christian message. The email is cropping up often enough that the folks at already have an entry on them on their site. If nothing else it’s nice to see the other side get a little representation every so often.