The director of "The Golden Compass" has told fans that they can expect the movie's sequels to contain more anti-religious themes which are not as evident in the first film.
Chris Weitz said the decisions that went into making the movie, which is based on the first novel of Phillip Pullman's trilogy His Dark Materials, were all directed toward building a foundation for the sequels.
"The whole point, to me, of ensuring that 'The Golden Compass' is a financial success is so that we have a solid foundation on which to deliver a faithful, more literal adaptation of the second and third books," he said last Wednesday on his MTV Movies blog.
The movie, slated for a Dec. 7 release, has drawn fire from both the novel's fans and critics alike for the intentional removal of anti-religious themes.
Supporters of Pullman's work, including the National Secular Society, argue that "castrating" the series' original themes detract from its core messages. Critics, meanwhile, contend that the "watered-down" version of the movie is a ploy to popularize the pro-atheist series toward children.
"Now, one thing that some of the extremists who have attacked the film are right about is that I would be happy if it made more people read the books — not because I am pursuing any sort of atheist agenda (this is a ridiculous idea), but because they are great works of literature, beautiful, permanent, and unassailable," continued Weitz.
Weitz pledged to readers that he would not be involved with any "watering down" of movie adaptations of "The Subtle Knife" and "The Amber Spyglass," which he understands to "tread in territory that is much more controversial than the first book."
In the second book, "The Subtle Knife," one of the main characters, Will, is told he possesses a magical knife that can "defeat the tyrant," which is identified as "The Authority. God."
In the final book of the series, "The Amber Spyglass," "God" is portrayed as a phony and liar. Will is told by two fallen homosexual angels that "The Authority" goes by many names including, "God, the Creator, the Lord, Yahweh, El, Adonai, the King, the Father, the Almighty," although "he was never the creator." "God" was just the first angel to be created from "Dust." By the series' end, the characters succeed in killing him.
"Whereas 'The Golden Compass' had to be introduced to the public carefully, the religious themes in the second and third books can't be minimized without destroying the spirit of these books," added Weitz
"If I sense that this is not possible, there's no point my continuing to work on them."
Watchdog Catholic League, one of the most vocal critics of the movie, has urged book publisher Scholastic Corporation to back off from participating in the production of the movie sequels.