With Prince Caspian, Game and Movie Merge
Before embarking into live action Walt Disney Pictures' epics based on C.S. Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia novels, writer/director/producer Andrew Adamson ushered in the era of the computer-generated blockbuster with Shrek and Shrek 2—two films that poked plenty of fun at Disney Pictures. Adamson's latest summer blockbuster, Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian, debuts in movie theaters worldwide May 16. Disney Interactive Studios also brings Prince Caspian to Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii, PlayStation 2, and Nintendo DS, marking the next generation debut for the Chronicles of Narnia franchise.
Developer Traveler's Tales worked closely with the New Zealand director, as well as the team at Peter Jackson's WETA Digital to share digital assets between the new game and film. The additional next generation console technology allowed for more fluid sharing between mediums. But given the spectacle and size of this film, which moved from Australia to Europe and spanned months of principle photography, Adamson found synergy challenging.
"I think the difficult thing that was reflected in this case is that I literally didn't have a lot of time to work with the games people because our release dates were basically the same," said Adamson. "They were drawing inspiration and information as quickly as I was shooting it. They would come to set and scan them or we would provide scans for them. You know we'd be there shooting and the very next day they'd be there collecting data for the game, so it was a very symbiotic relationship, but it was one that didn't allow me to have as much interface as I was able to on the last one."
With the first game, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Adamson established a working relationship with the game makers. In addition, that first film's Christmas release gave the director more time to work on both projects.
"The post production schedule was a little bit longer last time, but then again it was the same group of people so I didn't need to have the same level of interaction as I did on the last one," said Adamson. "We had already had a certain level of language. There were certain trusts that were already established where I felt like they had done a good job of representing the film in an accurate way last time, so I felt like I could actually let more of it go this time."
When it comes to the convergence of Hollywood and games, Adamson believes it's a good thing for consumers.
"I think it's inevitable," said Adamson. "I mean, entertainment is many different forms and I think the way that TV is interfacing with movies and movies are interfacing with games and online games are interfacing with PCs...all those things are coming together in a way that you get to sort of experience a world beyond necessarily just the film experience. And I think that's very exciting. I think it's fun to be able to interact with these characters that you're seeing in the movie."
The new game, which offers cooperative gameplay, allows players to take control of over 20 characters from the game universe, including an array of Narnians. In addition, the game's first level spans the 1,300-year gap between the last film and this one.
"From what I've seen of the new game it looks great," said Adamson. "I haven't actually been able to play it. They've certainly brought it in many times along the way to show me the levels, but they were literally finishing up as I was finishing up so there weren't many of them that had played the full game the last time I saw it. But it looks really good – I think it's got more levels to it. Not in terms of game levels, but in terms of gameplay. There are different ways the characters can interact than in the last game."
Adamson said one of the things he wanted to do with the first game that he wasn't able to achieve was to offer multiple ways to solve a problem within the game universe.
"I wanted the game to have a little bit more of the Grand Theft Auto way of thinking...that you can go off in different directions and this game does allow more of that freedom of gameplay," added Adamson.
When it comes to the next film and game, The Voyage of Dawn Treader, Adamson will have more time to interact with the game developers.
"I'll be producing the next Narnia movie with Mark and Phil Stoyer again, but I won't be directing it," said Adamson. " So I'm involved in the planning – fortunately, I'm involved at arm's length – I'm planning on having just a little time off to have some quiet time with my family."
When it came to the challenge of living up to the expectations of the millions of global fans of the Chronicles of Narnia books, Adamson didn't have a problem with his interpretation of the source material.
"I didn't find the fan base, as such, part of the challenge because I love the books," said the director. "And I wanted to make a movie that was true to the books. So by doing that I was already kind of satisfying the fan in myself and hoping that would satisfy other fans, as well."
Given the $745 million worldwide take of the first film, Adamson has done that. And now fans have a chance to experience his latest effort, Prince Caspian, on both the big screen and in videogame form.