By Edwin L. Carpenter - Associate Editor, The Dove Foundation
Walden Media's President and Co-Founder, Micheal Flaherty, believes that hard
work pays off. Flaherty co-founded Walden Media with his former college roommate
Cary Granat. Their intention was to produce interactive programs, books, and
films. The year 2003 was a remarkably successful year which resulted in Walden
Media's first three films—"Pulse: A Stomp Odyssey," James Cameron's "Ghosts of
the Abyss," and "Holes." Each of them opened to critical praise and success. In
a recent interview with The Dove Foundation, the Boston native expressed great
joy at the positive results of "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch,
And The Wardrobe," a film his company produced along with Disney.
"We're really overjoyed—it passed everybody's expectations. Disney has been
great and this has helped us get to a grass roots level. The network we have
built up here at Walden--teachers, parents, and pastors, helped us."
Flaherty believes one of the greatest benefits of this lavish and
high-quality film is the renewed interest in the books which the film sparked.
When asked what had pleased him the most about the success of "Narnia," he
replied, "The huge increase in book sales—Harper Collins' book sales increased
and many people have gone back to these stories."
"My favorite scene in the film takes place when Santa Claus arrives and when
Lucy wakes up and sees him she says, 'I told you he was real.'" The young
stand-out actress who plays Lucy is Georgie Henley, in her first feature film.
It is this kind of child-like wide-eyed wonder and innocence which director
Andrew Adamson brought to the production. Flaherty calls such moments as the
aforementioned scene of Lucy and Santa Claus "brilliant touches." Adamson
previously directed "Shrek" and "Shrek 2."
The care and attention lavished on "Narnia" is what Flaherty is about. He
mentioned that "Narnia" was five years in the making, and although they plan to
continue the series, the next film will also be done with great care. "We will
do 'Prince Caspian' next," Flaherty said. He added that the film would be
produced reasonably soon, indicating that it is not likely it will take five
years for the next production. It took that long to get the first one scripted,
up-to-speed, and produced. It was Granat who secured the rights to the C.S.
Lewis "Chronicles of Narnia" series in 2001. Granat is Walden Media's CEO.
Walden Media is not taking a long vacation following the success of "Narnia."
Flaherty said they have four films due to be released in 2006: "Hoot," about a
school child, and "How to Eat Fried Worms," as well as "Charlotte's Web," and
"Amazing Grace," a story about William Wilburforce and John Newton.
Walden Media's official Corporate Overview is to specialize "in entertainment
designed to recapture the audience's imagination, rekindle curiosity, and spark
an enthusiasm for lifelong learning."
Flaherty is pleased that the four principal children actors will be back for
the next "Narnia" film. His genuine fondness for them was revealed when he
referred to them as "great kids." He believes that the kids, along with the
story of good vs. evil, played a huge part in the film's success. Yet to him the
ultimate success was not measured at the box office, but at the book stores,
where, as he mentioned, sales have rapidly jumped for "The Chronicles of Narnia"
Expect to see the next book on film reasonably soon. But rest assured that it
won't be released until Flaherty believes enough care has gone into the finished
product. His impressive background includes work as an author, and he has been
published in National Review, The Boston Business Journal, and
American Spectator. He began his career as a speechwriter for William M.
Bulger, president for the Massachusetts Senate, and also for Massachusetts'
current attorney general, Tom Reilly.
Flaherty resides in Lexington, MA, with his wife, his son, his two
daughters, and Jumbo, their dog.
One gets the impression that Flaherty, who has accomplished so much in so
little time, is only beginning his trek as someone who intends to recapture the
movie audience's imagination.
Read Dove's Review of "The Chronicles of