:: the golden compass
:: dakota as: Lyra Belacqua
:: Year: 2007
:: status: Post-production


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Since July 5, 2007

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Dakota Blue Richards

Facts

1- Dakota Blue Richards was selected from 10,000 girls
The Golden Compass is loaded with A-listers, including Daniel Craig, his love interest in Casino Royale, Eva Green, Nicole Kidman, Eric Bana, and Kevin Bacon. Clearly, no expense was spared in assembling this stellar cast.

So why was the interesting decision made to cast the young neophyte Dakota Blue Richards as Lyra, the film's protagonist? Her name alone screams Hollywood, but Dakota had to have been selected from a pool of 10,000 girls at an open casting call for a better reason than her name.

The decision to cast a complete unknown in the lead role for the first film in an anticipated trilogy is a bold move to say the least. It’s no secret that a reasonable amount of cash has been thrown at The Golden Compass, which raises the stakes even higher for the studio.

Nonetheless, Chris Weitz is a seasoned writer and director, and we can only assume that there was something remarkably compelling about Dakota that gave him the confidence to give her the role. 2- The Golden Compass is drawn from a trilogy of books
Do we have another LOTR in the making? Given that New Line Cinema, the same company that produced LOTR, is producing The Golden Compass it wouldn’t be a stretch -- especially when we consider the success they had with the hobbit-infused magnum opus.

Beyond the success of LOTR, there’s no doubt that New Line is looking at the success of The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe (which grossed $291.7 million) and the continued popularity of the Harry Potter franchise (which has grossed $1.1 billion) as an indication that the market for fantasy is favorable. Putting out The Golden Compass isn’t a bad place to start if you’re looking to gamble on the genre.

The Golden Compass is the first installment in the wildly popular and well-received His Dark Materials trilogy. The Subtle Knife, the second book in the trilogy, is just as popular and has a tone that’s reminiscent of Tolkien, which must have New Line execs excited.

Lyra’s adventures continue in the third novel, The Amber Spyglass. Reviews for this last installment have been mostly positive, but there have been a few that indicated disappointment with the resolution. Many of the criticisms hurled involve Pullman’s clear distaste for religion. It will be interesting to see how New Line handles the adaptation of the third book given the reactions to the content.

3- Creating a script for The Golden Compass was a challenge
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the script has proved to be difficult; the book’s richness, vividness and complexity has been favorably compared the Tolkien’s work. This is not to mention the expectations of the built-in fanbase that New Line must meet. Imagine how a poor rendering of LOTR would have affected the box office and Peter Jackson’s career.