Sad news for fans of the C.S. Lewis Narnia series: Disney is pulling the plug after making movies based on just two of the books:
Fans of the Narnia movies had the wind taken out of their sails over the holidays when it was announced that Disney has taken leave of the franchise, opting out of The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. Though Disney helped finance and distribute the first two films in the series, the third movie will have to move forward without their involvement. Walden Media, the company that made the first two movies, had planned to begin filming Dawn Treader this spring for a May 2010 release, but is now shopping for a new business partner—possibly Fox, with whom it partners for all its other films.
According to the UK's Independent, Disney cited budgetary concerns as chief among their reasons for withdrawing from the film, leading to further speculation about the future of big-budget fantasy films amidst the receding economy—including, possibly, the Harry Potter franchise.
Dawn Treader, like Prince Caspian, was slated for an estimated $200 million budget—which makes Walden's task of finding a new distributor difficult. The Los Angeles Times, however, reports that the film would likely have come in well under the $200 million mark, and quotes an anonymous source who says that Disney and Walden experienced "creative differences" and a disagreement over when to release the film. Meanwhile, Jim Hill lists a third possible motivation: Slow DVD sales for Caspian.
Some industry insiders don't quite see Disney's logic. LA Times Critic Mary McNamara says Disney is jumping ship too soon, dismissing the entire franchise because of Caspian's disappointing sales; she argues that Caspian is generally regarded as a weak link in the series anyway, and says the fact that the film did as well as it did is a miracle, while Dawn Treader is a much more cinematic and appealing story to begin with. Naomi Creason, meanwhile, says Disney is just being practical, and senses little future for Dawn Treader.
Read it all here.