“The Golden Compass” to be adapted for BBC 1

Golden CompassBack in 2007 director/screenwriter Chris Weitz saw his adaptation of His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman quite literally come and go from the theaters without barely a whisper. Even after a relatively decent marketing campaign, the film really didn’t even see much fanfare in the home video market. Even though the fantasy series was a hit among readers, it didn’t resonate with the theater going audience despite the fact that high fantasy films were still quite popular.

Now there appears to be a renewed attempt at adapting Pullman’s fantasy series to the screen, according to Deadline. Jack Thorne, who had just received three BAFTA nominations in three separate TV categories, has been selected to handle the screen writing responsibilities for BBC 1. New Line Cinema will also be involved along with the UK/US production firm Bad Wolf, founded by Jane Tranter and Julie Gardner, the team who helped to bring Doctor Who back to prominence on that same channel. It was given the green light by BBC 1 controller Charlotte Moore and BBC Drama Commissioning controller Polly Hill.

His Dark Materials is a trilogy that consists of three novels: The Golden Compass (or Northern Lights), The Subtle Knife, and The Amber Spyglass, and the series has often been compared to Milton’s Dante’s Inferno with its religious themes. The story takes place in an alternate universe and surrounds the adventures of a young girl at the center of a fantasy mystery that spans worlds. New Line Cinema was behind the first adaptation of the first book starring Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig, but the film was considered a failure, both critically and commercially, which put an end to the franchise.

Addressing this announcement in a press release, author Philip Pullman had this to say:

“I’m delighted to welcome Jack Thorne as writer on the TV dramatization of His Dark Materials. Jack is a writer of formidable energy and range, and I’ve greatly enjoyed talking to him and learning about his plans for bringing His Dark Materials to the screen. I’m certain he’ll do a superb job, and I look forward to seeing the whole project develop as he shapes the story.”

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Given that it’s been less than 10 years since the last attempt at bringing The Golden Compass to the screen, is it too soon for another attempt by BBC 1? The first film was also met with a lot of criticism from the Catholic Church. Should the BBC find ways to produce this without those elements, or are they too integral to the story? Is this a series worthy of seeing any form of TV or film adaptation?
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