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Fox agrees to step in on next 'Narnia' movie


Twentieth Century Fox has agreed to co-finance the third movie in the “Chronicles of Narnia” series, pending approval of the final script and shooting budget. If all goes as planned, Fox and Walden Media, which controls the movie rights to C.S. Lewis’ classic children's books, hope to begin production on "The Voyage of the Dawn Treader" by late summer so it will be ready for holiday 2010 release.

First, however, Fox and Walden have to hire a screenwriter to do another pass on the script that was last rewritten by Richard LaGravenese, whose credits include "Freedom Writers" and "The Horse Whisperer." The movie companies are looking to make the film for about $140 million. Michael Apted, who made "Amazing Grace" and the 1999 Bond flick "The World Is Not Enough," is on board to direct.Ctlogosmall_5

Fox is taking a financial gamble that Disney was unwilling to wage despite helping bankroll the first two films in the "Narnia" family franchise. Walden, owned by entrepreneur Phil Anschutz, was forced to seek a new financial partner on “Dawn Treader” after Disney balked at the cost and opted out.

Fox was the most likely partner because the studio already markets and distributes Walden movies under its Fox Walden label.

Over the last few weeks, Walden chief David Weil and “Narnia” producer Mark Johnson have held a series of meetings with top Fox executives, including movie chiefs Tom Rothman and Jim Gianopulos, to discuss script revisions and the movie's cost.

While the targeted budget of “Dawn Treader” is much lower than that of the last Narnia movie, “Prince Caspian,” which cost $225 million to produce, it's still a big gamble. Released by Disney last year, the sequel was much less popular than the first "Narnia" movie, “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.” The sequel grossed $419 million worldwide compared with its 2005 predecessor, which generated $745 million in ticket sales.

Disney and Walden hope that DVD sales of "Prince Caspian" will help pull the movie out of the red.

-- Claudia Eller

Photo: "The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian" is courtesy of Walt Disney Studios

Comments () | Archives (12)

I'm glad to hear that Fox will step in. I love both Narnia movies. I don't think Disney lost money on the second film. With a budget of 200 million it actually doubled it's budget in worldwide earnings and has made over 100 million worldwide from DVD sales. The second may not have grossed as much money, but it certainly wasn't the box office bust Disney claims. Yeah for Fox!

i wish they would just focus on making the movies better as opposed to talking about the big money deals behind the scenes -- the stories are already there,and as written by lewis,are already quite good -- while i haven't hated the film versions,they just seem to be so cynically engineered to being the next big franchise,whereas they'd be better off focusing on creating something with quality -- i know the realities of the business,and am not naive,but don't you think a movie would get a bigger draw if it were actually good? -- remember that movie the golden compass? -- now there was a fantasy with true intellegence,a complex and chalenging story,and fine acting,that even though had all sorts of fantastic imagery,did not rely on it's special effects and was not dumbed-down for the average audience -- hence,it didn't do so well,and we'll never see the sequel,which is a shame,because it was better than this and that star wars shite

it's a good investment. disney made a huge mistake opening Prince Caspian against Iron Man. it was only ever suposed to be a family movie. the first one opened at christmas and was great counter programing to king kong (remember that stinker of a film?) and went on to play well through out the new year and was even around until MLK Jr. day.

and family movies are for thanksgiving and christmas. last x-mas was completely devoid of family films and filled with ww2 flicks.

Props to Fox!!

If Caspian cost $225m to produce and made $419m, how is it 'in the red'? Isn't it about $194m in the black?

Woo hoo! I can't wait for VDT!

My teens are hoping Fox will adhere to the book's story line. In our opinion, that was the major detractor to "Prince Caspian" and accounts for some of its poor box office showing.(I can't speak to the timing issue mentioned in a comment above.)

People who love timeless classics generally do not take kindly to major re-writes or additions/omissions to the story. We gagged on the romantic interest between Susan and Caspian, especially since Caspian was supposed to be a young boy. The screen writers who thought they could alter essentials and 'improve' the story were much too full of themselves. And why in the world would Peter fight in Caspian's stead when Caspian appeared as old and as physically capable as Peter? Ugh...really poor script revisions.

Fox should learn from Disney's disastrous 'creative license' folly and show respect for both the story and those who love the book as it was written.

SUSAN AND PETER need to be in the movie.. its just not worth seeing the movie with out them all and i think they should adapt it so they can be in it too!

'Disney' made the film under supervision of CS Lewis step son Douglas Gresham, thus was interpreted as best one could for film.

Note that the the number was 'Gross' profit and in addition to production costs there was additional marketing costs and profits split with Walden, whom may not have shared that production cost.

Good luck to Fox!

>'Disney' made the film under supervision of CS Lewis step son Douglas Gresham, thus was interpreted as best one could for film.

Do a little web surfing and you'll find that Douglas Gresham has been despised by the greater CS Lewis community for decades. He is a adopted son who spent little time with Lewis and who only seems to be interested in the money and attention his step-father’s works have brought him.

Many Lewis fans were terrified to see that he had anything to do with these movies.

I agree with others, the folks who will flock to see these movies again and again are the people who love these books and they love them precisely because of the religious content in them.

Take that out, as was done in Prince Caspian, and all you have (as someone else noted) is a bad knock-off of a Pirates of the Caribbean movie.

I am so glad that VDT is being made! I hope they keep the same Edmund and Lucy (Susan and Peter were not in the VDT book) and the same feel as the other movies, though keeping the religious lessons that are in the book would be more important. I will definitely see the movie when it comes out.

My family loved it! Its a movie you dont have to worry about hovering over the remote case a bad sceen or language comes about. My 15 year old actually watched these movies with the family!! Can't wait for the third.


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