Tenth Anniversary of Walden’s The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

By Always Narnian

Today marks ten years since the release of the Walden Media/Disney film The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe in the United Kingdom. For Narnia fans, it may seem hard to believe that a decade has already passed for the beginning of this franchise. Unfortunately, I was not active on the big Narnia sites at the time of the first film. However, if you were, you may recall some of the facts and rumors that were floating about online concerning this film. In honor of this anniversary, I thought it would be enjoyable to share some of these memories.

  • For a little while it was rumored that Nicole Kidman, an Australian actress, was chosen to play the role of the White Witch. This was not in the slightest bit true, as she was never offered the role. [1]
  • Aslan was originally to be voiced by Scottish actor Brian Cox. Though this itself was not a rumor, a story was started that Cox’s voice had altered due to some weight loss, most likely making his voice unacceptable for the part of Aslan. This, of course, was the false part of the story – Brian had to cancel the role due to his scheduling. [2]
  • The first actor to be revealed for the project was Tilda Swinton, starring as the lead villain, the White Witch.
  • The first trailer for The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe was released on May 7th, 2005, nearly 7 months before its theater debut. These days we expect new trailers to be uploaded to YouTube, but this was a brand new site at the time, and still in beta testing, so it was on another website (moviefone.com) that the trailer was first made available on the web. [3]
  • Liam Neeson was not announced for the role of Aslan until July of 2005, though they had already recorded his lines. [4]
  • It was said that various actors including Gerard Butler, Ian McKellen, Timothy Dalton, Ralph Fiennes, Jason Isaacs, and Sean Bean had auditioned for the role of Aslan. According to IMDb, Gerard Butler had said during his audition, “ This isn’t going to be like the BBC puppet Aslan, right? Because, if so, I’m leaving right now.” [5]
  • While in the theater, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe fought especially with King Kong (directed by the Lord of the Rings directer, Peter Jackson) for the top place in the box office. [6]
  • In June of 2004, it was already being said that work was starting on the next Narnia script. Prince Caspian was officially confirmed in February of 2006. [7]
  • Grant Major, the Production Designer of The Lord of the Rings films, was at first to be involved in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe[8]
  • John Howe, the artist well known for his Tolkien illustrations and work on The Lord of the Rings films, was also originally involved in the art-work for The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. At the time he was forced to keep this secret and even denied his involvement. He eventually wrote a confession on his own website after having left the project:

“From February through May I didn’t do much else except work my fingers to the bone drawing lions, witches and wardrobes pretty much full time. And last but far from least, apologies to all those who asked if I had indeed stepped through the wardrobe, and to whom I either lied or artfully dodged the question. Sorry about that, I hope you’ll forgive me. It won’t happen again (until next time). Now that the production has moved to New Zealand I’ve wandered out of the wardrobe and shut the door carefully behind me. I can at last mention the project, but of course five months of hard sketching will have to wait for an eventual ‘Art of’ book…” [9]

  • In March of 2005, Narniaweb confirmed that there was a scene that had not yet been shot—the scene at the end of the film in which the Pevensies are no longer children. Mark Wells, the actor for the grown-up Edmund, was the first of the four to be announced for the Pevensie’s adult roles. [10]

What are your own memories of this film? Do you remember your reaction to this classic tale being adapted into a film? Do you remember what your thoughts were on the first trailer? Or do you remember any speculations you had concerning this film? I’d love to hear your own memories of the film’s release in the comments below!

Thanks to Narniaweb’s News Archives for much of the information above.

(Caution is advised in following any of the outgoing links in this article. TLC is not affiliated with IMDb or Narniaweb.)