.- Actor Sam Elliot has blamed the Catholic Church for stopping sequels from being made to the Golden Compass movie based on the first book of Philip Pullman’s atheistic trilogy His Dark Materials. The film, starring Nicole Kidman, Daniel Craig and Eva Green, grossed more than $380 million worldwide after its Christmas 2007 release, but took in only $85 million in the U.S. According to the Internet Movie Database, the film had a budget of $180 million.
The 65-year-old Elliot, who played a Texan “aeronaut” in the film, charged that a Catholic-led campaign against the movie stopped its sequels from being made.
“The Catholic Church happened to The Golden Compass, as far as I'm concerned,” Elliot remarked to the Evening Standard.
He said the movie did “incredible” at the box office but the Catholic Church “lambasted” the filmmakers and “scared off” New Line Cinema executives.
The movie itself is about a young heroine named Lyra who fights against an evil organization called the Magisterium, which many people see as a reference to the Catholic Church's body of teachings of the same name. The anti-religious message was reportedly toned down compared to the book.
Bill Donohue of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights had charged that the books and movie sold “atheism for kids.”
He told the Evening Standard that he was “delighted that the boycott worked.”
"I knew if we could hurt the box office receipts here, it might put the brakes on the next movie,” he added.
Donohue said he protested the movie because of its “deceitful attempt to introduce Christian children to the wonders of atheism in a backdoor fashion at Christmas time.”
“Everyone agrees the film version was not anti-Catholic, but that hardly resolves the issue. The fact is that each volume in the trilogy becomes increasingly anti-Catholic,” he continued.
Pullman, the author of the book on which the Golden Compass was based, said that the likelihood of the film trilogy being completed is decreasing.
He said that Catholics’ efforts against the film “must have played a part” in the trilogy being shelved, the Telegraph reports.
Pullman has denied his series is anti-Catholic, claiming it is a warning about what religion can do “when it gets its hands on the levers of power.”
According to CinemaBlend.com, the first book of the His Dark Materials trilogy is the most mild “by far” and the movie had most of its anti-religion references stripped.
“That kind of sanitization would have been impossible when adapting later books,” the movie website continued, noting that the series “quite literally” becomes a story about homosexual angels trying to kill God.
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Office for Film & Broadcasting had initially published a positive review of the movie, which was later pulled.
Archbishop of Denver Charles J. Chaput had said the film had an “aggressively anti-religious, anti-Christian undercurrent” and an “absence of joy or any real laughter.” He criticized the promotion of “this cold, angry, anti-religious fable” as holiday fare and invited Catholics to voice their concerns to New Line Cinema.
Bishop of LaCrosse, Wisconsin Jerome Listecki sent a letter about the film to his priests, urging them to warn parents about the books’ attacks on the Christian faith.
"Instead of using fantasy to lead people to truth and to God, this trilogy tries to lead them away from God," he said.