This was in this month’s Onfilm magazine in NZ, and I thought it would interest a number of TORN readers both for the crossover interest in Narnia and for the news of Richard Taylor, Grant Major and John Howe working on these films.

Onfilm: Confirmation was still pending at presstime that Kiwi Andrew Adamson’s Chronicles of Narnia dramatisation would be shot in New Zealand.

Investment NZ’s Paul Voigt would only say a decision is nigh but one source close to the Walden Media production believes there’s no doubt about the principal location.

“If The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe isn’t filmed here, it won’t be filmed anywhere.”

The NZ advantages are considerable, ranging from a 12.5% rebate on its NZ spend under the proposed Large Budget Film Grant scheme to the Oscar-winning creature/special effects expertise of WETA.

Among those officially attached to the NZ$200 million project are The Lord of the Rings troika of Grant Major (production/design director), Richard Taylor (special effects) and John Howe (conceptual artist).

The Shrek director’s dramatisation will be live-action and feature a real lion. Said Adamson in July: “I read the book when I was eight years old and it seemed very real to me. Aslan has to be, first and foremost, a real lion.”

The script is being written by Ann Peacock, who won an Emmy and a Humanitas Prize for A Lesson Before Dying.

Her upcoming projects include Country of My Skull, with John Boorman attached to direct and Sam Jackson, Juliette Binoche and Jon Voight to star; On the Ropes for director Brad Silberling; Marines of Autumn for Irwn Winkler; and Star Time, with Joel Schumacher directing Will Smith.

Walden Media, which has optioned all seven books in the Narnia series, is a subsidiary of The Anschutz Company, one of the largest privately-owned and operated ventures in the US.

Its affiliated companies are principall engaged in telecommunications and media, natural resources, transportation, real estate, sports and entertainment.

Walden originally planned to release The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe mid-2004 but the opening has since been pushed back to two years from now.