The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe crew is getting the boot from the Magic Kingdom. Proving that not even Mickey is immune to the downturn, Disney has decided against coproducing and distributing the third film in the Chronicles of Narnia series, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.
And that means Walden Media, the production company behind the C.S. Lewis adaptations, will have to find a new partner for the big-screen franchise to continue.
According to the Hollywood Reporter, Disney’s departure is based on “budgetary and logistical reasons,” though reps for both declined to comment beyond that.
Dawn Treader was staring at a budget in the $200 million range but was an uncertain prospect at the box office.
The first film in the series, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, grossed $292 million domestically and an additional $453 million overseas, per Box Office Mojo; this summer’s Prince Caspian dipped to $141 million and $278 million, respectively.
In fact, aside from the Harry Potter movies, kid-friendy fantasy flicks have produced diminishing returns (including The Golden Compass and The Spiderwick Chronicles) of late.
The Mouse House had hoped to begin shooting Dawn Treader for a May 2010 release, with Michael Apted directing and the key holdover players from Caspian in place (Ben Barnes, Georgia Henley, William Moseley and Anna Popplewell).
But with Walden scrambling for a new backer (20th Century Fox is reportedly a possibility) and reduced costs, it remains to be seen whether the principals will stay on board.
One thing we’re certain of: Mickey and Aslan didn’t exchange fruitcakes this year.