Disney Pulls Out of Narnia Films, but Walden Media Remains Committed:
Numerous articles have recently appeared announcing the decision announced on Christmas Eve by Walt Disney Pictures not to co-finance The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, the third of the films based on C.S. Lewis's beloved, 7-volume book series, The Chronicles of Narnia. Disney officials point to "budget considerations" during the economic downturn and poorer performance of the film version of Prince Caspian. In this regard, the first film, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, received $745 million internationally at the box office, while Prince Caspian received $419 million. However, some of this decline resulted from a weak and mangled script by director Andrew Adamson, who refused to embrace the full story and theme of the book, as Yahoo! Movies notes in its review:
"As a result, the movie edits out or severely compromises much of the real character development and interesting story lines in the original story and replaces them with Hollywood’s usual bag of tricks: gratuitous amounts of violence, overtly sentimental moments that fail to resonate, and romance that in this case seems disturbingly like mental statutory rape."
In addition, as NewsMax reports:
"Unlike the first 'Narnia' which had a holiday release, the sequel came out in the spring, and it was up against superhero summer fare like 'Iron Man' and 'Indiana Jones.' Disney tried to market it as an action flick, with limited success. Thankfully, Walden remains committed to C.S. Lewis’ remaining books."
Furthermore, Disney flatly refused to have any pre-screenings of Prince Caspian and would not pursue any special marketing of the film to churches and other Christian markets. In direct contrast, for the first film an extensive and highly effective marketing campaign directed by Motive Entertainment (the marketing experts from Passion of the Christ fame) produced an enormous response from Christian movie goers. Disney however presented Prince Caspian as a strictly secular and violent, fantasy/adventure/romance, and the result was all too predictable.
Meanwhile, interest in the Narniad book series and Lewis's work overall continues to grow unabated among the public worldwide. And here in her January 1st column entitled "A 'Chronicles of Narnia' voyage Disney should take," Los Angeles Times critic Mary McNamara gives Disney a well-deserved scolding for being so short-sighted. The most likely new partner for Walden Media is Fox, which already markets and distributes Walden films using the Fox Walden banner.