Boycott Watch
December 24, 2007
Catholic League Boycotts the Golden Compass Movie
Summary: Catholic League has successfully used Boycotts in the past.
    Long are the days since 1956 when Hollywood made religious movies like Charlton Heston in The Ten Commandments. These days movies with religious themes generate controversy, primarily because instead of bringing Biblical epics to life, they question religion or the fundamental beliefs of thereof.

   The latest movie to spark religious controversy is The Golden Compass, based on the first book of a trilogy. Dr. William Donohue, President of the Catholic League, is not only concerned with the movie content, but also that this movie may bring children to want to read the other books, all of which contain content the Catholic League says is in direct conflict with their teachings. The Catholic League posted a booklet on their website discussing the movie.

    In the mean time, The Golden Compass has had a strong opening in Europe, while USA Today reported the opening in the US with the title "'Compass' box-office win is far from golden." This may be because percentage-wise, US consumers are generally far more religious than their European counterparts. Regardless, the movie is doing well, bringing in more than $100 so far, and the theatrical run is far from over, not to mention future DVD sales and possible sequels based on the remaining two books.

    In response to the boycott calls, New Line Cinema which recently celebrated its 40th birthday made the following statement: "The Golden Compass is an exciting, entertaining fantasy adventure that we believe audiences will enjoy. The film is neither anti-Christian nor anti-religion. The critically-acclaimed, award-winning novel on which the film is based has been praised by countless clergy and religious scholars, including the Archbishop of Canterbury, for its deep spirituality and exploration of important theological issues."

    The Catholic League is no stranger to calling for boycotts. Considering the purchasing power of Catholics world wide, Catholic League boycotts send shockwaves to their targets. Boycott Watch reported about how the Catholic League's boycott against Wal-Mart for not saying Merry Christmas resulted in Wal-Mart retracting that policy in about 24 hours, among others.

    In regard to other movies with religious content, when Mel Gibson was producing The Passion of the Christ, Boycott Watch contacted used a direct inside contact to speak to Mel Gibson's agent regarding the charges of anti-Semitism in the movie, and the response was nothing but screaming at us. At the time Boycott Watch felt as if the entire controversy was just a publicity stunt to get free advertising, and we reported as not to play their game. After the famous Mel Gebson drunken tirade, we realized we were wrong. In the mean time though, the Divinci Code movie producers tried a similar PR stunt over religious content. While that attempt for free PR worked marginally, the movie was controversial yet the Catholic League was quick to point out that they did not issue a boycott call in that case.

    It is not clear if the Catholic League boycott itself is responsible for the less than expected US opening at this time, but it is difficult to believe it played no part. The Catholic League has a very strong following and many non-Catholics will comply with the boycott as well. In the mean time, New Line Cinema reportedly has plans to make two more movies based on the trilogy and some have postulated that New Line Cinema will re-write part of the movie to avoid criticism. Since some of the more controversial story lines are fundamental to the story, so we doubt that will happen. The real test to determine if the other two movies will be produces will come when the final box office numbers are revealed.

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 ©2007 Boycott Watch