Although "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" began intriguing readers well before the era of spectacular multimillion dollar Hollywood special effects, with its highly-anticipated release in movie theatres this Friday, the sale of Narnia books and other related merchandise has seen a large boost and nowhere more so than in Christian retail stores, according to reports.
The Walt Disney movie, based on the popular children's series written by renowned Christian apologist C.S. Lewis, already has boosted sales of the seven-title Narnia series published by HarperCollins, according to the Associated Press.
Sales at Christian stores, meanwhile, are going through the roof, reported Doug Lockhart, president and chief executive officer of Zondervan the Grand Rapids-based publisher of Bibles and other religious books. As a division of HarperCollins, Zondervan is responsible for getting Narnia items into Christian bookstores and gift shops.
"It has been a very stable franchise but with the exposure that has been associated with this upcoming movie release, the sales have taken a dramatic increase, multiple times," Lockhart told AP.
Rhonda Barnett, owner of the Blessings to You shop in Three Rivers, Mich., also noted that few of her customers had been buying the Narnia books until recently.
"There's never been too much interest, but within the past month, it's really increased with the release of the movie coming up," she said to AP on Thursday.
According to Kirk Blank, chief operating officer of Munce Group an Indian Rocks Beach, Fla.-based marketing group that represents 610 independently owned Christian retailers the last time a movie's release had this kind of an impact on sales at Christian retail stores was when "The Passion of the Christ" came out early last year.
Gary McClure, the e-business marketing manager at LifeWay Christian Resources, had previously predicted that those introduced to the "classic tale of ultimate friendship and sacrifice" through the movie would "likely be intrigued enough to pursue the other books in the Narnia series."
He also said he anticipated "greater potential to reach the unchurched through this film [than through 'The Passion of the Christ'] due to the indirect references to Christianity.