Orson Welles Narrating a Brand New Family Christmas Movie
by Ethan Anderton
March 26, 2010
No, we haven't figured out how to re-animate corpses and make them do our bidding just yet. Oh, how much simpler things would be. THR reports that an old once-thought-lost recording of Orson Welles narrating a children's Christmas novel is being used in an upcoming 3D live-action/CG hybrid movie called Christmas Tails. Directed by Todd Tucker, the story follows Santa Claus' dog who gathers other canines in the North Pole to help save Christmas when the infamous sleigh-leading reindeer all get sick. Isn't that movie called Santa Buddies? This kind of sounds like a shitty Christmas present but there are a few interesting elements.
The film is coming from Drac Studios, best known as a special effects and makeup shop for movies like The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, who's now moving into full-fledged production. Matt Thompson wrote the script based on Robert Leed's book of the same name from 1985 and them Welles (a friend of Leed) narrated the book only a few months before he died. Harvey Lowry from Drac was able to get ahold of the tapes while discussing a project with a colleague, Karl Fritz, who mentioned in passing a rumor of the "lost tapes," believed to be Welles' last professional recordings. Once the authenticity was confirmed, he began brainstorming and decided it was time for a feature adaptation of the book featuring Welles' unique voice.
Drac, using its expertise in animatronic movie animals, will create the dog heroes and create a fantastical North Pole with computer graphics. Their creative team has won Oscars for Bram Stoker's Dracula, Mrs. Doubtfire and Benjamin Button and was nominated for Titanic and The Passion of the Christ among others. Meanwhile, Welles voice will be exploited used in the same way Boris Karloff's voice was used in narrated the animated version of How the Grinch Stole Christmas, so that should bring some weight to an otherwise childish sounding story. However, with Welles "involvement" Lowry said he already has interest from talent from word-of-mouth alone. "People see this as their last opportunity to act in a movie with Orson Welles."
Honestly, I like the idea of using Welles immortal voice, but not in a film like this. It feels cheap, exploitative and awful. Of course, Christmas movies aren't necessarily known for high caliber stories or complex subject matter, so this could turn out to be an interesting Christmas flick to enjoy every year. Producers are looking to release it for Christmas 2011, so be sure to stay tuned as more info becomes available on this project.