Wednesday, May 4, 2016

The Chronicles of Prydain Film, Potential Audience; Fans of the Books (Part 2 of 4)


In part 1 of this series, I detailed how Disney would need to sell well over 70 Million tickets in order for the first Chronicles of Prydain film to be financially successful. I also broke the potential audience into three categories:

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 book nor seen the movie or are impartial to, or dislike them)

In this post, I am going to look in depth at the first of these three audiences, fans of the Prydain books. 

First, let me state that of the three audiences, this is my favorite. It is the one that I am a part of. It is also the one that I got to know the best while I was making the Lloyd Alexander documentary.  While it is certainly not the largest of the three groups, and will not even come close to accounting for the 70 Million ticket sales that Disney needs, I am going to explain why it is so crucial to the financial success of the film that Disney satisfy this group.

In order to take a closer look at the fans of the books, allow me to share some statistics that reflect on this group. 

These statistics give an overall sense of the size and geographical location of the fanbase. As I made the “Lloyd Alexander” documentary, I was amazed at the positive response I received from Alexander’s fans. I was contacted by people from all the four corners of the earth who in one way or another had been influenced by Lloyd Alexander’s books.  This graphic shows each of the countries from which a fan of Lloyd Alexander has reached out to me via e-mail, phone, or other social media sites.

(The countries in red represent the locations from which I have been contacted by Lloyd Alexander fans)

It is also interesting to me, how many people have been influenced by the Prydain books, and have gone on to become authors, artists, or other people of great influence themselves. This list includes, but is not limited to:

Based on the statistics that I’ve shared, it’s obvious that this group will not single-handedly account for the 70 Million tickets that would need to be sold. As a matter of fact, they probably won’t even come close.  So why should Disney care about satisfying the fans of the books? This is the group, that more than any other, that if they are pleased with the film, will want to come back and see it again. Many of them will see it 6 or 7 times if it meets their hopes and expectations. This group will get their friends and families to go with them. This group already loves these stories, and they are already passionate about them. This group will blog about the movie, tweet about the movie, talk about the movie and share their opinions regardless of what they think about the film. This is an important group for Disney to satisfy. 

Now that we’ve examined why Disney needs to satisfy the fans of the books, let me give my opinion on what exactly needs to be done to do that. My answer is a simple one: make the stories as true to the books as possible. Now, I recognize that there are changes that would need to be made while translating the stories from book to the big screen. However, the feel of the world needs to remain consistent, and the characters need to be true to the characters in the book. If this happens the majority of these fans will be pleased with the end result.

I would also argue that the most likely way for the films to capture the magic of the books, is for them to be made by people who are already fans of the books. Not everyone involved needs to be a fan of the books, however, as much as possible, finding a talented director, producer, writer and artists who are passionate about these stories is going to be crucial. This will help ensure the films have the same magic that has captivated generations of readers across the world.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Quote on Prydain's Beginnings

I wanted to release a Lloyd Alexander quote that is lesser known. This quote is found in "Lloyd Alexander: A Critical Biography" by James S. Jacobs. This quote was referencing the time period when he first came up with the concept for the Prydain series. 

Monday, April 4, 2016

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


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).

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

Friday, April 1, 2016

Lloyd Alexander Quote

Over the next few months, I hope to release a series of Lloyd Alexander photos and quotes that are unfamiliar to most. I thought I would start it off, however, with a photo and quote that are a little more recognizable by his fans. Stay tuned for some new material. And let me know what you think of this.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Prydain Pronunciation Guide

As there has been more talk of Prydain recently, and will continue to be for the foreseeable future, I thought it would be a good time to put together this pronunciation guide.

These pronunciations come from The Prydain Companion: A Reference Guide to Lloyd Alexander's Prydain Chronicles by Michael O. Tunnell. In The Prydain Companion, Mr. Tunnell writes:

The pronunciation aids were provided by Lloyd Alexander, who advises us that they are not necessarily true to the Welsh tongue. Many sounds in the Welsh language are simply not available in English. Alexander (1985b) does not want the Welsh words to be a stumbling block for readers of the Prydain Chronicles and has therefore made the pronunciations as simple as possible.

While putting together this visual, I have worked closely with Mr. Tunnell to decide which names to include and which names to leave off. I didn't want this graphic to be a comprehensive list, whereas The Prydain Companion already serves as such. However, hopefully this will be helpful to anyone who enters the land of Prydain and is having a hard time with some of the Welsh names. As you come across names that are not on this list, please refer to The Prydain Companion for a complete pronunciation guide.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Ann Durell Speaks About Prydain

I realize that the vast majority of people that visit my blog are fans of Lloyd Alexander, and have already seen this video. However, I wanted to post this video that I made a few years ago that gives a hint of what the Prydain books are like.

In this video, Ann Durell McCrory, who is the editor of Lloyd Alexander's Chronicles of Prydain talks a little about how the books originally came about.

I originally created this video as a "sneak peek" to help advertise for the documentary while it was still being made. However, I'm reposting it now in light of the recent announcement that Disney is developing the Prydain books into a film, this may give a little more insight into what Prydain is all about.

I hope you enjoy this short video. Feel free to let me know what you think in the comments, here, or on the YouTube page.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Disney to Adapt Lloyd Alexander's Chronicles of Prydain into Live Action Film

No books have influenced my life as greatly as Lloyd Alexander's Chronicles of Prydain. When I first purchased the mass market paperbacks from my middle school book fair, little did I know the impact they would have in my future life.

As I read the report by Variety this week announcing Disney was planning on adapting the books into film, I was full of mixed emotions. As most fans of the books can relate, I was excited, however nervous that the films would be a repeat of Disney's previous attempt at adapting the books.

However, I also thought back to my teenage years when I first read these stories. When I first read these books the words were jumping off the page at me. The skillful writing by Mr. Alexander enabled me to envision these books with such clarity and imagery, that I couldn't help but fall in love with the characters and the mythical land of Prydain. I wanted nothing more than to see these books turned into masterful and rich live action films.

This desire was only deepened when I saw Peter Jackson's adaptation of "The Lord of the Rings". As I sat through those movies, and fell in love with Tolkien's work in a new way, I couldn't help but think of what was possible to do with Prydain. I wanted to experience Prydain in the same way that Peter Jackson had helped me, and millions of others, to experience Middle-Earth. Ultimately, I wanted millions of more readers exposed and led to the source material by Lloyd Alexander.

These dreams have helped to shape my life to this point. A few years ago I made a decision to make a documentary film about Lloyd Alexander. The countless hours that I spent researching, and getting to know everything that I could about Lloyd Alexander and his books, was invaluable to me. I was able to gain unique insights into this wonderful man and beloved author. I also gained a deeper love for all of his works, but especially the Chronicles of Prydain.

As Disney embarks on this journey of adapting the Prydain world from text to screen, I am deeply excited to see what they do. I also am encouraged by the technology that is available in today's world to adapt these the right way. I hope that it is adapted in a way that will pay homage to the books, and inspire a new generation to follow their passions the way the books have inspired me. In the immortal words of Lloyd Alexander, "For each of us comes a time when we must be more than what we are." (The Castle of Llyr, p.4)

What do you think of the news? Let me know in the comments!