Meeting a Billionaire in Belfast

Tonight I joined other journalists at the All Ireland premier of Belfast-born CS Lewis’ new Narnia movie, held at a waterfront arena called the Odyssey Center. A little while after we arrived and stood sipping champagne, a man entered who looked a little bit like Kirk Kirkorian. The deference with which the hosts treated him made me think he was a VIP. Like many others he had on a tux, but there was something about this older man with a stiff looking blond wife that intrigued me.

Later I saw him sitting on a couch, and as we chatted about who he might be, a man who was with him came up to me. He said I looked like somebody he’d seen in the movies. I was flattered, but had to ask–who is that older guy on the couch?

“That’s Phil Anschutz,” he said, “I work for him.” Anschutz is the money behind this movie, he’s a billionaire from Denver who believed in the Christian message of the movie and risked big bucks to see it made. I was introduced, and Anschutz told me that he’d like to make six more films, covering the entire Narnia series. I told him about seeing Lewis’ childhood home, and the prep school he attended in the city. I was probably the only one there who knew his name, and his friend confirmed that while Anschutz may indeed have 7 billion or more, he doesn’t like being in the news.