Back in January, we were invited to visit the set of The Golden Compass, which was wrapping up its final week of shooting at that time. Since then, a number of photos have hit the net, in addition to two trailers, a few posters and a whole lot of buzz. Based on Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials, The Golden Compass (originally titled Northern Lights when it was released in Britain) is the first of three books New Line hopes to adapt for the big screen. Unlike New Line's Lord of the Rings franchise, all three His Dark Materials films (The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife, The Amber Spyglass) are not being shot at the same time. While plans to make The Subtle Knife are currently in the works, it's believed the studio will wait to see how well The Golden Compass does in theaters before moving on to its sequel.

Earlier this month, director Chris Weitz dropped somewhat of a bomb on fans (in a letter to the His Dark Materials fansite), letting them know that he, along with Scholastic, New Line and Philip Pullman, have decided to cut out the last three chapters of Book I from the film, and will instead use the material for The Subtle Knife (even though footage from those last three chapters does appear in the trailer for Compass). For those of you that have read The Golden Compass, you'll know that the book ends on a pretty big cliffhanger (with both a major death and a betrayal). The consensus from fans is that this was a good choice, and will make for a better overall cinematic experience. Additionally, it also means there's a very good chance The Subtle Knife will be made into a film as well ... and what a beginning it will have! The Golden Compass opens nationwide on December 7th; below you'll find a gallery of pics from our set visit and make sure to read on after the jump to find out how this monstrous production was pieced together.

categories Movies, Cinematical