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Narnia Gets Lion’s Share of Box Office, While Critics Hail ‘Gay Cowboy’ Flick     12/13/2005
By Ben Frichtl

C.S. Lewis’ The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe proves a crowd pleaser, but film critics go wild over Brokeback Mountain.

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, blitzed its way to the No. 1 movie slot on its opening weekend, grossing $67.1 million. This made it the second-biggest December release in history, after Peter Jackson’s epic, The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (2003).

Director Ang Lee’s homosexual Western, Brokeback Mountain, also premiered the same weekend in limited release. Showing in five theaters in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco, the film grossed $544,549, averaging $108, 910 per theater. A wider release is slated on December 16, with a nationwide release in January.

Starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger, Brokeback Mountain is the story of two sheep-herding cowboys in Wyoming who begin a homosexual relationship on the range in the 1960s, and continue their affair even after the two men marry women. The $13-million film swept the major categories, including Best Picture, among critics in Los Angeles, Boston and New York, and garnered seven Golden Globe nominations from foreign film critics. The Oscars, which will be awarded on March 5, 2006, are expected to include Brokeback among the nominees.

Brokeback is the ‘Perfect Storm’ of Hollywood’s war on morality,” said Robert Knight, director of Concerned Women for America’s (CWA’s) Culture & Family Institute (CFI). “It combines high production values with a lowdown attack on morality. It’s a mockery of the Western genre embodied by every movie cowboy from John Wayne to Gene Autry to Kevin Costner. I can’t think of a more effective way to annoy and alienate most movie-going Americans than to show two cowboys lusting after each other and even smooching.

“Although the film reportedly portrays some problems with adultery, it comes down on the side of ‘being who you are,’ which means having whatever perverse and unfaithful relationship you want. Homosexual activists have openly boasted that they hope this film ‘will change minds.’ I think I’d put it differently. If it encourages even one confused boy to engage in sex with another male, that makes it an instrument of corruption, not one of enlightenment.”

As for The Lion, Disney Distribution President Chuck Viane said the $180-million adaptation of C.S. Lewis’ anchor book of the seven-volume Chronicles of Narnia was designed to attract a wider audience than just children. “This movie is playing to everybody. We always knew it would. But thinking something would happen and seeing it come together are two very different things,” Viane said in the Los Angeles Times.

The movie may not get to enjoy its first-place status very long, as Peter Jackson’s King Kong comes out on Wednesday. Narnia outshone two of Jackson’s other blockbusters, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001), which grossed $47.2 million its first weekend, and The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, which earned $62 million its first weekend.

The Narnia film racked up a near-record weekend partly because of the buzz created by a marketing campaign targeted at the Christian community. Larry Ross, a Dallas-based media and public relations consultant who worked on both The Passion of the Christ (2004) and Narnia, stated, “Mel Gibson struck a nerve in Hollywood. Hollywood is realizing that the church … represents a previously unrecognized market.”

The film also fared well internationally. Narnia earned approximately $40 million from foreign theaters, including $16 million in the United Kingdom, $7.5 million in Spain, $6 million in Germany and $6 million in Mexico. In Japan, the film is expected to gross $2 million in sales in its initial weekend.

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, in contrast to Brokeback Mountain, is not only a ripping good story, but its heart is the basic Christian theme of Divine sacrifice and redemption,” Knight said. “That’s why it will make zillions while Brokeback will impress the critics and some fringe audiences in urban centers, but that’s about it.

“Nonbelievers who venture into Narnia will perhaps wonder why Aslan’s sacrifice and eventual triumph touch them so deeply. Edmund, the disobedient boy whose rebellion forces the issue, represents the sin nature of every human being – and his hope is our hope, which God presented to us as a gift on Christmas Day and realized fully on Easter morning.”

Benjamin Frichtl, a Patrick Henry College student, is an intern for the Culture & Family Institute, an affiliate of Concerned Women for America.

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