Disney says bye bye to ‘Narnia’ franchise

12.24.08 9 years ago

Isn’t this sort of thing only supposed to happen in political circles?

News of Disney opting out of the “Narnia” franchise two days before Christmas when the streets of Hollywood are deserted reeks of a Washington power play.  Whatever the timing or attempt to minimize embarrassment, the reasoning was easy: money.  For the Mouse House, there was either compelling research showing fan interest in the subsequent books wasn’t strong enough to justify further sequels and/or the budget of the sea based “Trader” was skyrocketing to unrealistic levels.

As for Walden, this is just another nail in the coffin of a horrible year.  Their joint venture with Fox, Fox Walden, shuttered after “Nim’s Island” and “City of Ember” both significantly underperformed.  And the “Narnia” sequel, “Prince Caspian,” was a stunning disappointment. At the time the film’s poor results were blamed on a bad summer release date.  In hindsight, it appears Disney thought differently.  Although if they hadn”t focused so much of their publicity campaign on the unknown playing the title character, Ben Barnes, and perhaps more on the four kids who audiences recognized from “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe,” neither company might be in this mess.

Fans of the series shouldn’t give up hope just yet though.  Walden still has a good relationship with Fox and Murdoch”s studio could use another tentpole in its 2010 schedule.  However, a better suitor would be Paramount, which has a dearth of potential franchises in the pipeline and could exploit the property through its sister TV network Nickelodeon.

Needless to say, the ship hasn”t sailed on the cinematic chronicles of C.S. Lewis creations.  Not yet anyway.

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