Disney and Buena VistaInternational are working with Christian groups to spread the word about theforthcoming release of The Chronicles ofNarnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.
The film, due out December9, has been promoted to UK religious groups and businesses since early thissummer, through an independent consultant.
In the US, Disney haspartnered with Christian products company Outreach as its "official churchresource provider," offering ideas of Narnia-related church events,preview screenings for clergy members and more.
Disney is also said to beworking in the US with Motive Marketing, the same firm that supported theblockbuster release of The Passion Of The Christ. The film's Americansupporters also include Campus Crusade for Christ and the National Associationof Evangelicals.
UK-based CPO (ChristianPublishing and Outreach), a company that sells printed materials and otherresources to 20,000 UK churches, has licensed images from Disney for its ownline of Narnia products and says that there is "growing enthusiasm" from thereligious community.
"We approached Disneybecause we knew that there would be a large audience at churches around the UKfor this film because of CS Lewis and all he stands for," says Russ Bravo,CPO's director of development.
CPO is offering materialsincluding DVDs of the film trailer to be shown during Sunday school programmes,posters, and church invitation cards featuring official images from the film.
The company is also offeringchurches detailed ideas about how to incorporate Narnia into its programmes and sermons.
Disney produced the film,with a budget reported to be at least $150 million, with Walden Media, afamily-friendly entertainment company. CS Lewis' classic children's tale isn'treligious per se, but as Bravo says, it has "obvious allegorical links to theChristian story," including the Christ-like character of Aslan the Lion.
Disney is allowing thecompany to use the film's images free of charge. "They recognize that it was abig potential audience there," Bravo says. "From their point of view it helpspromote the film."
In other examples of UKcrossover, Manchester Cathedral got in on the act in October, when hundreds ofchildren attended its Narnia workshops and day of celebration, whileorganization Methodist Children is spreading a children's service related tothe Narnia story for use during the holidays.
Jeff Bonser, whose ChristianEnquiry Agency charity was contacted by BuenaVista this summer, says it has decided to take a similar approach to
As with The Passion, CIA hascreated a response postcard campaign, to put 150,000 postcards in Britishcinemas with an Aslan photo and the tagline "Discover the Deeper Magic."Cinemagoers can keep half the postcard (which directs them to the rejesus.co.ukwebsite) and they can freepost the other half to the charity, which will sendthem a leaflet about Christian ties to Narniathemes or further information if requested.
Again in this case, Disneyhas supplied images but CEA is creating the postcards on its own.
Churches Together in England,a large organization of mainstream churches including the Church of England,Roman Catholic, Methodist and Baptist faiths, said it hasn't officially backedthe film but was supporting it informally. "We've been talking with arepresentative from Disney, and we've mentioned it in different contexts," saidCTE education officer Sarah Lane.
She added that churches areresponding enthusiastically on a local basis. "If it's appropriate for theircommunity, they take it up," Lane says.
Disney is also pushing theeducational aspects of the film, with resources available for educators at itswebsite narniaresources.com.