Franchises live and die by their first installments and when The Golden Compass hit screens back in the winter of 2008, it failed despite an all-star cast, featuring the likes of Nicole Kidman, Daniel Craig, and Sam Elliott. Reasons for the failure could be pinned on a myriad of elements, with the main one was veering too far from the meat of Philip Pullman’s novels due to outcries from religious groups.
Often considered a counterpoint for C.S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia series, The Golden Compass felt like it was trying to bank on the success of the current run of Narnia films while still (to a certain degree) trying to be the exact opposite. After disappointing box office return, the sequels were cancelled and the series was tabled.
Early Sunday, BBC dropped a trailer for their reboot of the His Dark Materials trilogy, produced in part with New Line Cinema (who produced The Golden Compass film). By all accounts, the darker tone and casting of this incarnation feels closer to the books right out of the gate. I’m most excited to see Ruth Wilson (best known as Alice Morgan on Luther) as Mrs. Coulter.
The cast is rounded out by Dafne Keen as Lyra Belacqua, James McAvoy as Lord Asriel, Lin-Manuel Miranda as Lee Scoresby and Clarke Peters as the Master of Jordan College.
Pullman’s novels are going back on my to-read list post-haste. What do you think? Will you be watching when it airs on HBO?