Monday, April 4, 2016

The Chronicles of Prydain Film, Potential Audience (Part 1 of 4)

(Source: jkunzart.com)

As a deeply devoted fan of Lloyd Alexander’s Chronicles of Prydain, I have been thinking a lot about the announcement that Disney has acquired the rights to these stories. As was written by Yahoo Movies, Disney is revisiting a property, which was the basis for one of their least successful animated films of all time.

(Source: Wikipedia)
One might ask, “Why revisit the material which led to such an unsuccessful project in the past?” Due to the impact that these books have had on my life, I am obviously biased toward this series. However, I do feel strongly that the reason they would want another shot at developing a film based in the land of Prydain, is the same reason they made an animated film in the first place. The source material is just that good. Disney is sitting on a potential gold mine. And as a fan of the books, I am really hoping that this ends up as a series of 5 films (one for each of the books in the series). 

What does Disney need to do to avoid another financial disaster, and to build a series of blockbuster films? I offer the following thoughts, well aware that Disney is completely qualified and able to answer this question without me. However, with the countless hours of research that I have done on Lloyd Alexander and on these books, perhaps I can offer a unique and valuable perspective.

First, allow me to state the obvious. In order for a film to be financially successful, you need people to come and see it; a lot of people, and a lot of times.  How much money does a film like this need to make to be deemed “successful”? It depends. It depends on what the production and marketing costs are, as well as the studios expectations for the film. For comparison’s sake, let’s look at the Chronicles of Narnia (which are in some ways comparable to the Prydain books).


(Source: imdb.com)
In the early 2000’s Disney partnered with Walden Media to produce films based on the popular series by C.S. Lewis. The first Narnia film, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe was produced with a $180 Million budget. It brought in a worldwide gross of $745 Million. It was successful enough that Disney agreed to partner with Walden to produce a second film in the series, Prince Caspian.

Due to the success of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, the studios decided to spend more money on Prince Caspian. The production budget for the second film was $225 Million. With the raised budget, the expectations and hopes were also raised. It brought in a worldwide gross of $419.7 Million, and ultimately when Walden approached them about doing the third film in the project, Disney decided to pass. The second film had not been successful enough.

Turning back to the Prydain books. There are 5 books in the series, providing potential for a series of films. If Disney were to spend around $200 Million on the first Prydain movie, in order for it to be successful enough for them to want to make other movies in the series, they would likely hope to bring in a gross of around $600 Million (this is my own estimate, and has in no way been confirmed by Disney).



With a goal of $600 Million dollars and an average ticket price of $8.50, they would need to sell well over 70 Million tickets. Where will those 70 million ticket sells come from? I’ve broken the potential audience into three groups:

1.     Fans of the Prydain books
2.     Fans of the Disney animated movie The Black Cauldron
3.     Non-fans (people who have neither read the books nor seen the movie, or are impartial to, or dislike them).


I recognize that categories 1 & 2 are not mutually exclusive, however there seems to be large percentages of those groups which don't fit into the other, so the purposes of my writing, I am treating them as exclusive groups.

In my next three blog posts, I will look at each of these three audiences, and give my thoughts on what would need to happen in order to capitalize on each audience to maximize ticket sales.


(Narnia financial information and average ticket price courtesy of BoxOfficeMojo.com)

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