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Trivia / The Golden Compass

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  • Ability over Appearance:
    • Philip Pullman had this reaction when Nicole Kidman was cast as Mrs. Coulter. The character has dark hair in the books but was depicted as a blonde in the film. Pullman later admitted, "I was wrong, she has to be blonde" (Kidman had long been his personal choice for the role). Pullman has subsequently written the character as being fair-haired. The TV series, however, restored Coulter’s dark hair.
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    • Serafina Pekkala was the opposite, with a brunette Eva Green playing a character written as blonde, though Green’s performance was praised. The subsequent TV series retained this change.
    • At the time the film was made, Magda Szubanski seemed a perfect fit for Mrs. Lonsdale, a character who was not given much description in the original trilogy. Subsequent revelations in The Book of Dust revealed Alice Lonsdale to be much younger and quite slender.
  • All-Star Cast: Featuring a cast of stars such as Nicole Kidman, Daniel Craig, Jim Carter, Sam Elliot and Eva Green (although more famous nowadays, she had just come to prominence with Casino Royale (2006) and Kingdom of Heaven). The daemons are also voiced by Freddie Highmore (enjoying a very high profile thanks to Finding Neverland and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory), Kristen Scott-Thomas, and Kathy Bates. And of course Ian McKellen and Ian McShane voicing the armoured bears. Christopher Lee also appears in a small role. Dakota Blue Richards was on her first role as Lyra but would be more recognisable now to Skins fans.
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  • Awesome, Dear Boy: Eva Green signed on to play Serafina Pekkala because she has a great interest in witches and the occult, and loved the idea of playing one. She has played several more since.
  • Billing Displacement: Christopher Lee is given prominent billing, yet says a grand total of one line.
  • Box Office Bomb: Budget, $180 million. Box office, $70 million (domestically), $372,234,864 (internationally). Due to selling off all international profits to get the film made, New Line could only rely on the domestic proceeds for revenue, firmly making this one of the biggest bombs of 2007.
  • Celebrity Voice Actor: For the daemons - Freddie Highmore as Pantalaimon, Kristin Scott Thomas as Stelmaria and Kathy Bates as Hester. Additionally Ian McKellen as Iorek and Ian McShane as Ragnar.
  • Creator Backlash: Chris Weitz disowned the theatrical cut due to all the Executive Meddling it went through. He especially regretted having to replace Nonso Anozie's voice as Iorek with Ian McKellen.
  • Creator Killer:
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    • This was part of a bad spell that led to New Line Cinema losing their independence, becoming a subsidiary of Warner Bros. Pictures; this also led to their subsidiaries getting crushed in the remolding of the firm. This was also the fate of Shiny Entertainment, the studio that made the game tie-in, and Sega had to abandon them to Double Helix.
    • Subverted for Chris Weitz, whose career was not dented at all by the failure of this. He landed the job directing the first Twilight sequel New Moon, and got to write the screenplays for Rogue One and Cinderella (2015).
  • Dark Horse Casting: Dakota Blue Richards had never appeared in a film prior to being cast as Lyra at the age of twelve.
  • Deleted Role: Serafina's daemon Kaisa doesn't appear in the finished film, but photos exist of him with Eva Green.
  • Deleted Scene: According to Chris Weitz, a whole hour of footage was deleted from the film:
    • The entire ending sequence, where Lyra and Roger travel to find Lord Asriel and he kills Roger to open up a portal to a new world. This was cut partly due to test audiences mistakenly thinking that Lyra had died and was going to Heaven rather than just crossing into a new world. Two clips of the ending are in the trailer, and some of the sequence is included in the video game. This ending was also featured in the official movie storybook.
    • Eva Green claims she had more scenes filmed. She listed her favourite as one where Serafina flies alongside the Gyptian ship, sees Farder Corem and hides so he won't see her.
    • The scenes of Lyra staying with Mrs. Coulter were longer but got cut down into the montage shown in the film.
    • The Bolvanger sequence was shortened as well - footage of Lyra setting off an alarm and rounding up the other children was present, along with them witnessing her destroy the intercision machine.
    • Tom Courtenay claimed his role as Farder Coram was "cut to the bone" in editing.
  • Disowned Adaptation: Subverted. Philip Pullman supported the film initially and was fine with the decision to change the ending in anticipation of the next film. While he admitted he was disappointed with the final product, he reaffirmed it was the studio's interference he wasn't happy with, and expressed a desire to merely see the director's cut. Even when the TV series came out and was received better by fans, he affirmed that there were parts to the film he liked as well.
  • Early Draft Tie-In: Some of the merchandise accompanying the film included photos and references to deleted scenes and the original ending, such as the tie-in storybooks. Most notable was the video game, which also retained the third act's original structure (Lyra visiting Bolvangar before Svalbard). To date, the game is the only means, apart from trailers, where portions of the cut footage can be seen.
  • Executive Meddling:
    • The director attempted a faithful adaptation. The money men differed. See the main page for the result.
    • The producers also demanded to replace the original voice of Iorek, a Shakespearean actor virtually unknown in Hollywood (though he's since gotten more recognition with his role as Xaro Xoan Daxos in Game of Thrones), with the instantly recognizable voice of Sir Ian McKellen. The latter and Christopher Lee were added into the film by New Line, hoping to recreate the success of The Lord of the Rings.
    • The original opening - seen in an early trailer - had a cat crossing through a portal into our world, encountering Lyra and Pan. The latter would be in the form of a mouse, and then turn into a cat to scare the cat away - before remarking to Lyra that the cat looked "like she'd never seen someone's daemon before". The studio insisted on a voiceover by Serafina Pekkala explaining things instead.
  • Fake Nationality: French (with an English accent) Eva Green as a Scandinavian witch.
  • Follow the Leader: The initial trailers sold this as the next The Lord of the Rings (as both were produced by New Line Cinema), and the books themselves were a response to The Chronicles of Narnia.
  • Irony as She Is Cast:
    • Nicole Kidman is a devout Catholic playing someone who ends up rebelling against the Church.
    • Eva Green plays a witch who flies through the air. In reality, she is terrified of heights, and could only do so many takes in the harness.
  • Looping Lines:
    • “Golden Compass" is very obviously dubbed in several scenes where the Alethiometer is mentioned. No characters say the words in shot.
    • Dialogue in the bear sequence had to be dubbed to fit the new order of events.
    • Lyra’s arrival at Bolvangar was a particularly obvious offender, as again new dialogue had to be recorded to accommodate the re-ordering. The camera only shows the person who is not speaking.
  • Missing Trailer Scene:
    • The first teaser showed a completely different opening - where a cat would cross from our world and meet Lyra and Pantalaimon. Pantalaimon would change shape and scare the cat away - to which he would respond "you'd think she'd never seen anyone's daemon before."
    • Portions of the original ending can be seen in some trailers; one includes a clip of Lyra screaming "I'm not yours. I'll never be yours!" as the ice shelf breaks.
  • No Stunt Double: Daniel Craig did his own stunts in the scenes at the Swiss glaciers.
  • Orphaned Reference: Notice how dramatic the ice bridge scene is between Iorek and Lyra? That was filmed as part of the ending sequence, and she's crossing the bridge to meet Azriel and Roger. In the final cut, it's a bridge to Bolvangar.
  • The Other Marty: Different voice actors were originally chosen for Iorek and Hester, Iorek's even making it into the teaser trailer. They were recast with Ian McKellen and Kathy Bates. Earlier in production, Adam Godley was going to voice Pantalaimon, but got replaced with Freddie Highmore.
  • Promoted Fanboy:
    • Both Daniel Craig and Dakota Blue Richards were big fans of the books. The latter in fact was inspired to become an actress after seeing the stage adaptation and wanting to be like Lyra.
    • Chris Weitz was a fan too, and in fact rejected the original script because it wasn't faithful enough - and ended up writing it himself.
  • Real-Life Relative: Dakota Blue Richards's mother makes a cameo in the scene where Lyra and Mrs. Coulter are having dinner - where Lyra spits the wine out.
  • Star-Making Role: For Dakota Blue Richards, despite the film's box office failure.
  • Stillborn Franchise: They were willing to make a trilogy. However, criticism from the Catholic church and middling box office return killed those plans and led to the film's ending cliffhanger being unresolved. There would be a new Live-Action Adaptation in the form of a series 12 years later, His Dark Materials, with no connection to the film whatsoever.
  • Troubled Production:
    • Chris Weitz was first signed on to direct but withdrew from the project anticipating backlash from His Dark Materials fans about the toning down of the book's more overt anti-religious elements (that the studio insisted on, having rejected his initial treatment). Anand Tucker was set to replace him, but he too resigned over Creative Differences - he wanted to make a film smaller and "less exciting" than New Line wanted. Seeing that the film was unlikely to get made otherwise, Chris Weitz returned after getting a letter from Philip Pullman.
    • Chris Weitz's final screenplay would have had a running time of nearly three hours, including lengthier scenes of Mrs Coulter's London party and Lyra meeting with a witch representative. Most of this was filmed, but the studio demanded a shorter two hour run time - convinced a shorter film would be more marketable.
    • In post production, the studio insisted on several recuts of the film, and had several scenes re-shot and rearranged. Weitz's original cut allegedly had an entire hour of extra footage. Lyra travelling to Bolvangar, the Gobbler's Outpost and Svalbard was swapped around, so that she sees the bears first (and the original order shows up in the movie's novelization). As a result, Roger had to be digitally removed from the bear fight. The ending was abruptly cut and given a more uplifting climax, which happened so late in production that clips from it can be seen in the trailer and the tie-in video game. The intent was for the final three chapters to now serve as the opening to The Subtle Knife's film. This did admittedly have the approval of Philip Pullman, saying it was for the good of the film.
    • The film ended up being a domestic failure, although its worldwide gross was sufficiently high enough to warrant a second. Screenplays for The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass were written but, despite the film winning an Oscar for its visual effects, the 2008 recession and protests from the Catholic Church meant that they never materialized. The novels ended up being remade as a TV series beginning in 2019.
    • This film's failure was what resulted in Game of Thrones. George RR Martin had been skeptical about having his books adapted for film, and this one proved to him that it would be better suited for television.

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