I know that the "Chronicles of Narnia" are very important to many Christians. I even knew that Disney planned to market this film primarily through churches, as happened with the 2004 blockbuster "Passion of the Christ".
But I didn't know that much about Walden Media, the production company responsible for "Narnia" (as well as the biopic about Ray Charles), or about the head of Walden, Philip Anschutz. This article could have shed light but is subscriber only. This love letter shed a bit more, but only a bit.
Please read this 1998 article on Phillip for a more sobering description of the "Christian billionaire". A few selected passages:
In 1991, the company's pipeline division announced plans to lay 132 miles of crude-oil pipeline adjacent to Southern Pacific track running between Kern County in the Central Valley and refineries in Wilmington and El Segundo. The project proposed the transport of 130,000 barrels of crude oil a day from tankers off the Southern California coast via a 20-inch steel tube passing underneath primarily urban, non-Anglo, working-class communities. Protests went up from neighborhoods all along the route. City councilman Richard Alarcon called the Pacific Pipeline "a classic case of environmental injustice."
Anschutz mounted a $394,000 counterattack headed by former councilwoman Joan Milke Flores that was dubbed by one City Hall observer "the full-employment act for lobbyists." It cut through city council opposition like a knife through cream cheese, easily defeating a weak courtroom challenge. The pipeline is now advancing toward the South Bay at 300 feet per day. Along the way, Anschutz spun off the pipeline operation from the railroad company to his personal holdings.
Anschutz has always used his money for political influence. In 1993, he gave $100,000 to a think tank controlled by his old friend Bob Dole. In '95 and '96, he spent $360,000 backing Republicans, especially the successful 1996 Colorado senatorial run of veterinarian Wayne Allard, a National Rifle Association stalwart who proposed "hangings in the streets" as a criminal deterrent. In the crucial final days of the successful campaign to pass Colorado's Amendment 2, which restricted the right of the state's cities to pass civil rights protection for gays, Anschutz donated $10,000 to the amendment's backers, Colorado for Family Values. At heart, suggests the Denver Business Journal's Dubroff, Anschutz isn't that interested in politics: "He's more of a person who doesn't like government interference."
If you know anyone who plans to see any films by Walden Media, please let them know more about Philip Ancshutz. If they still want to see the Narnia film, or Ray, or what have you, fine, but let them know what the media is not likely to tell them.