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The Golden Compass (2007) Poster

Trivia

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George R.R. Martin once cited this movie as one of the reasons he wanted Game of Thrones (2011) to be a television series, rather than his books being turned into movies.
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Years after the film's release, director Chris Weitz revealed that the movie ended up being a "terrible experience" for him, since New Line Cinema constantly interfered with the result. Weitz' original script had a much slower pacing, allowing for more world-building, character development and exposition. However, the studio forced him to scrap a lot of what was not immediately essential to the plot, as well as tone down the religious subtext. They also overruled several of his casting decisions, and took over editing to get the running time under two hours. This decision necessitated re-shoots and a major re-arrangement of several other scenes to make the film coherent again. The most radical intervention was a studio-mandated happy end, by removing the original downbeat ending from the final cut with the intention of using this as the opening of a proposed sequel (which never happened). Weitz said that despite being a fan of the books, he didn't get to make the film he wanted.
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Daniel Craig did most of his own stunts, especially in the Swiss glaciers.
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The name "Serafina Pekkala" originated when Philip Pullman browsed through a Finnish telephone directory.
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Filming took one hundred days. Dakota Blue Richards (Lyra) was in every scene of this movie, aside from two, which required her to shoot for ninety-eight out of the one hundred days.
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Nicole Kidman originally turned the role as Marisa Coulter down, but Philip Pullman (the author of "His Dark Materials") convinced her to take the role.
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Daniel Craig was a fan of the books before he was involved with the movie, as was Dakota Blue Richards, who has read the books and saw the National Theatre stage play.
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Despite a prominent billing, Sir Christopher Lee only had one line.
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In December 2007, Nicole Kidman hosted a special screening of this movie for the sick children at Sydney Children's Hospital in Randwick, New South Wales, Australia.
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The first movie to gross over $300 million worldwide while failing to reach $100 million in the U.S. Although a U.S. box-office disappointment (only grossing $70 million), the movie captured $302 million at the foreign box office, giving it a worldwide total of $372 million. This became a more common phenomenon following the expansion of the Chinese box-office market that began in 2010, even though this movie only grossed $4 million in that market. Unfortunately, New Line Cinema did not benefit from the foreign box office success: they had already sold the overseas rights before the movie was made, in order to secure the film's $200 million budget. The domestic failure of the movie caused the end of New Line as an independent company, when the bankrupt studio was subsequently absorbed by Warner Bros. in 2008.
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10,000 girls turned up for open auditions in Cambridge, Oxford, Exeter, and Kendal for the role of Lyra Belacqua. In June 2006, twelve year old London schoolgirl Dakota Blue Richards won the part meeting the approval of Philip Pullman, the author of the novel.
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In December 2004, Chris Weitz resigned from directing this movie, claiming he was daunted by the technical challenges of the story. In August 2005, Anand Tucker was hired to replace Weitz, with the twenty-four-carat approval of Philip Pullman. Tucker felt that this movie would have as its central theme "Lyra's search for self-discovery, and for a family." In May 2006, however, he resigned, citing creative disagreements with New Line Cinema, and Weitz returned to direct.
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Philip Pullman, the author of the "His Dark Materials" trilogy, had originally wanted Jason Isaacs to play Lord Asriel, Nicole Kidman to play Mrs. Coulter, and Samuel L. Jackson to play Lee Scoresby. But as the author has no role in casting, only Kidman made it into this movie.
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Sir Christopher Lee and Sir Ian McKellen were cast at the insistence of New Line Cinema executives, who hoped to replicate the studio's success with The Lord of the Rings trilogy.
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The planned sequels never developed due to underperformance in the U.S. box office and the uncertain economic climate. However, in November 2015, New Line Cinema announced they would develop an event series based on Philip Pullman's books instead, not related to this movie.
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The scene where Marisa Coulter hits her monkey was not in the books, but was written by the books' author, Philip Pullman.
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Sam Elliott hadn't read any of the "His Dark Materials" books, before he was asked to take the role as Lee Scoresby. He chose to first read the books by Philip Pullman, and then to read the script.
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Eva Green had to shoot several scenes while being up in the air, tied to wires. However, she suffers from a fear of heights, and refused to re-shoot some scenes as she was horrified by the experience.
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Nonso Anozie was replaced by Sir Ian McKellen as the voice of Iorek Byrnison. Chris Weitz stated in an interview with Empire Magazine: "It was a studio decision. You can understand why you would cast Sir Ian McKellen for anything, but letting go of Nonso was one of the most painful experiences on this movie for me. I need to say about Nonso, that he is one of the most promising and soulful young actors I have encountered in England and I've worked here for quite a bit now and he's actually in the next Mike Leigh. But it was, uh, that was kind of a dark day for me. I kinda wanna go out of my way to point out how much I love Nonso's work, and that's that."
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Philip Pullman, author of the novel, was admittedly disappointed by the final cut of this movie, but appreciates the performances.
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Ridley Scott was the first person to be offered the job of directing this movie, and the first to turn it down.
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Ozymandias, the golden monkey, was the hardest daemon to make, because he had to move and jump around all the time.
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Some scenes were shot in Norway, in places such as Bergen and Svalbard, but none of the actors or actresses were allowed to perform there, as the producers couldn't find an insurance company that would allow crew members to walk around with shotguns, and because the actors and actresses could fall ill, due to the extreme temperatures.
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Nicole Kidman was raised as a Catholic, and on the topic of religious controversies of the movie, she announced that she wouldn't have participated in the movie if she felt it went against her religious beliefs.
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All the scenes shot in Oxford were filmed at night using artificial light, because the local council did not permit Chris Weitz to shoot during the daytime.
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Sam Elliott proclaimed that this was by far the most exciting CGI movie in which he has been involved.
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Lord Asriel was played by Daniel Craig, who also played James Bond from 2006 to 2020. The part was previously played, in a London stage adaptation, by Timothy Dalton, a former Bond.
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According to Deborah Forte, she and Philip Pullman discussed Nicole Kidman for the role of Marisa Coulter ten years before the movie went into production.
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Since Iorek, the armored bear, was computer generated, all Dakota Blue Richards had to interact with was a large, oval-shaped piece of fur without a head, legs, or the rest of its body. When Richards spoke her lines, Iorek's reply could be heard coming from speakers somewhere on-set.
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The series title, "His Dark Materials", comes from a line in "Paradise Lost" by John Milton. This is a favorite literary work of Philip Pullman, who has edited editions of it.
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The King of the polar bears, Ragnar Sturlusson (voiced by Ian McShane) is called "Iofur Raknison" in the books. But the name was changed to prevent confusion between him and Iorek Byrnison.
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By the time of release, the film had the biggest budget for a film with a solo female protagonist.
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Pivotal scenes taken from the final chapters of the book were filmed and deleted shortly before release. New Line Cinema has said it hopes to re-insert the scenes in a sequel.
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Chris Weitz adapted Philip Pullman's work, citing this movie to be influenced by Barry Lyndon (1975) and Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977). He also mentioned that this movie would make no direct mention of religion or God, two of the key themes of the books, a decision attacked by fans of the trilogy. According to Weitz, New Line Cinema feared that "perceived anti-religiosity" would make this movie financially non-viable in the U.S. However, Weitz reassured fans by saying that religion would appear in euphemistic terms.
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"The Golden Compass" is the American title of the book, which Philip Pullman published in the U.K. as "Northern Lights".
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The snake that Edward de Souza holds is real. It is a corn snake, which is non venomous.
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Nicole Kidman said her deamon would be an otter or a kitten, while Eva Green said it would be frog, because it's French.
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The "real world" night scene in Oxford that opens this movie included a digitally-added skyscraper that doesn't exist in the real Oxford. The scene morphs to the "alternate world" Oxford, which is, in fact, the actual current Oxford street scene.
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There were roughly six hundred costumes created for this movie, all from scratch.
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Dakota Blue Richards' mother (Mickey Richards) made a cameo appearance as a diner in the scene at the restaurant with Nicole Kidman.
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WILHELM SCREAM: The famous scream is heard when a witch is hit and falls during the battle near the experimental station.
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Although beautiful, it was extremely dangerous on the snowy glaciers, which reflected a blinding sunlight, prohibiting the cast from flying out of location.
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New Line Cinema estimates that fifty percent of the potential box-office income was unaccomplished due to the religious controversy surrounding this movie. The production company sold off foreign rights, and proceeds from those sales covered about sixty percent of the one hundred eighty million dollar budget.
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Paul Bettany was in negotiations to play Lord Asriel.
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Dakota Blue Richards' first theatrical movie.
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Eva Green announced during promotion of this movie that the (later abandoned) sequel was set to begin filming in September 2008.
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The Trollesund Police speak Icelandic in the scene where Ioric Byrnisson is reunited with his armor.
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In July 2003, Tom Stoppard was hired to write the screenplay. A year later, when Chris Weitz was hired to direct, he rejected Stoppard's script, preferring to adapt Philip Pullman's work himself. He wrote an extensive 185-page screenplay that he later edited down to a 156-page shooting script, which was reportedly much more faithful to the book than Stoppard's version.
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Nicole Kidman's agents and executives from New Line Cinema spent over two months at what were described by one source at the studio as "complex" negotiations to secure the actress' services.
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Originally, Adam Godley was hired to voice Pantalaimon, but he was replaced by Freddie Highmore.
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Sir Tom Courtenay has said in interviews that his role was cut to the bone in editing.
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This movie winning the Oscar for Best Visual Effects over Transformers (2007) was considered to be a huge upset.
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Chuck Norris publicly condemned the movie as anti-Christian.
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A ten-minute preview of this movie was shown to audiences at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival.
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Paul Bettany and Clive Owen were considered for the role of Lord Asriel.
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The advertisement had the "Overture" music from Lady in the Water (2006).
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Although the ice bears come from alternate-universe Norway, they speak with English accents, presumably because a Nordic accent wasn't considered imposing enough.
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Early in production, the movie was aimed for a November 16, 2007 release.
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Daniel Craig and Nicole Kidman appeared in The Invasion (2007).
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Sir Christopher Lee and Freddie Highmore appeared in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005).
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This movie reunites stars from the James Bond franchise: Daniel Craig who was James Bond from 2006 to 2020; Eva Green, who was the leading Bond girl in Casino Royale (2006); and Sir Christopher Lee, who was the former Bond nemesis in The Man with the Golden Gun (1974). Coincidentally, the character of Lord Asriel, played by Craig in this movie, was performed earlier by his predecessor as James Bond, Timothy Dalton.
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Spoilers 

The trivia item below may give away important plot points.

In the original ending to the film that was faithful to the book, Lyra's father kills her best friend Roger in order to open a bridge to a parallel universe. However, during a radical re-edit by the studio, this ending was removed in favor of an abrupt but happier conclusion. The studio intended to use the unhappy ending as the beginning of the sequel, which sadly never materialized due to the film's disappointing commercial success.
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