Out of the lion’s den: CS Lewis film saves Disney from Christians

The past few years have been beset by board struggles, high-profile splits and a wobbly stock price. But this week Disney can take a crumb of comfort from the fact that a conservative Christian group in the US has decided to end its nine-year boycott of the corporation – thanks, in part, to the forthcoming film version of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.

The Mississippi-based American Family Association (AFA) instigated the boycott in 1996 after accusing Disney of “promoting homosexuality” and associating itself with “trash films”. The organisation demanded that Disney form an advisory panel of evangelical Christians and ban “Gay Day” revellers from visiting its theme parks in California and Florida. It also objected to the company’s association with Miramax, the studio which had a hand in films such as Pulp Fiction and Fahrenheit 9/11.

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The AFA cites “positive signs” as a reason for calling off the ban. Its stance has been mollified by the pending departure of Disney chief executive Michael Eisner, and by the corporation’s split with Miramax heads, Bob and Harvey Weinstein. “Eisner has been the main part of the problem,” explained AFA president Tom Widmon. “He would not even sit down with us. [And] they got involved with Miramax, which was making a lot of trash films.”

Conservative Christians are also heartened by Disney’s decision to adapt The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, the first book in CS Lewis’s classic series of Narnia stories. Although set in a magical land populated by talking beasts and witches, Lewis’s tales are traditionally read as thinly-veiled Christian allegories.

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

Budgeted at a reported $100m (£55m), The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is scheduled for release in December. The film is directed by Andrew Adamson (Shrek 2), and stars James McAvoy as Mr Tumnus the faun and Tilda Swinton as the White Witch. Over at the AFA, Tom Widmon is already agog with excitement. “We know there are a lot of evangelicals who are going to want to go and see that,” he said.

Yesterday Disney had no comment over the lifting of the AFA boycott.


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The Guardian, UK
May 25, 2005
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Religion News Blog posted this on Thursday May 26, 2005.
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