Fans may get to see “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader,” but Walt Disney Pictures won’t be involved.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Disney has opted not to exercise its option to co-produce and co-finance “Dawn Treader” with Walden Media.
The trade paper says that Walden still wants to make the third “Narnia” feature and will now ship the property to other potential financing and producing partners. A logical pairing would be with 20th Century Fox, which already has a Fox Walden shingle, which has been involved with box office disappointments including “The Seeker: The Dark Is Rising” and “City of Ember.”
The “Narnia” franchise would seem like a safer bet, but after “The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe” took in $745 million worldwide in 2005-06, “Prince Caspian” fell to under $420 million worldwide. The production budget for “Prince Caspian” has been reported in the $200 million range.
Disney and Walden Media had originally hoped to begin production on “Voyage of the Dawn Treader” — featuring returning stars Ben Barnes, Georgie Henley, William Moseley and Anna Popplewell — in January of 2008 before pushed production back to summer of 2008 and again to spring of 2009. The most recent proposed release date, obviously tentative, was May 7, 2010.
Michael Apted is still attached as director, working from a script by Steven Knight.
Walden is hoping the “Narnia” series won’t become prematurely truncated in the manner that befell Warner and New Line’s adaptation of Philip Pullman’s “His Dark Materials” trilogy after “The Golden Compass” made only $70 million domestically.