Disney jumps ship on next Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader


Wow, when I woke up today, on Christmas Eve, I did not expect to read this headline all over my inbox. I did notice an awful lot of stories with Narnia in the title, and as I started to look at them, the first one I noticed was this headline: Disney jumps ship on next “Narnia.” My heart sank. Disney has been so good to us, here at NarniaFans.com, that I was looking forward to working with them again on the next Narnia.

Here’s hoping that another studio takes the opportunity to pick up where Disney left off. Come on, Fox! Get on board, and do this series to the end! We’re rooting for you!

From Reuters/The Hollywood Reporter:

“The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader” will have to sail without Disney.

The studio said Tuesday that for budgetary and logistical reasons it will not exercise its option to co-produce and co-finance the next “Narnia” movie with producer Walden Media.

The third entry in the series, based on the classic books by C.S. Lewis, was in preproduction and set for a spring shoot for a planned May 2010 release. The development puts the participation of the talent attached in doubt. Michael Apted was on board to direct a script by Steven Knight. The key players of the second installment, “Prince Caspian” — Ben Barnes, Georgie Henley, William Moseley and Anna Popplewell — were to return for the third film.

It is rare for a studio to pull out of a planned trilogy in midstream, but the number-crunching showed a franchise on a downward trend. “Lion” roared to $745 million worldwide. This year, “Prince Caspian” grossed just $419 million.

Walden has a strong relationship with the Lewis estate and will shop “Treader” in hopes of finding a new partner. The most likely candidate at this stage is Fox, which markets and distributes Walden fare under the Fox Walden banner.

Any partnership on a “Narnia” movie will require a substantial investment. “Caspian,” which filmed in the Czech Republic, Mexico and New Zealand, cost $200 million. The first film, “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe,” was shot mostly in New Zealand for $180 million.

Further challenging “Treader” may be a waning of the pricey children’s fantasy genre. When the “Harry Potter” series topped the book charts and then filled movie theaters, studios began snapping up fantasy manuscripts as quickly as they could. When “The Lord of the Rings” showed it was possible for adults to enjoy the fare as well — and produced the box-office results to prove it — Hollywood’s fascination with the genre intensified.

But no other fantasy adventure films have shown that kind of box office punch. Earlier this year, Warners and New Line hoped they were launching a franchise with “The Golden Compass,” but the adaptation of the Philip Pullman trilogy tanked domestically. The film grossed just $70 million domestically and the co-production partners declined to go forward with a second installment despite the fact the film did take in more than $300 million overseas.

Granted, Pullman’s series isn’t a household name, at least in the states… nor should it be. It’s no Lord of the Rings caliber writing, nor even Harry Potter. It’s certainly not Narnia. Studios have been trying to emulate Lord of the Rings, and for the most part, failing to do so. Why? Because The Lord of the Rings spent SEVEN YEARS in production before the first film was released. Five years of pre-production means the creative team is still as behind the film as the day they started, a year and a half of filming on all three parts of the movie, and a storyline that was compelling, leading to an ending as wonderful as the film that preceeded it.

With Narnia: there is a gold-mine as well… it’s a series where every book is different from the last, making for a series where people tend to find their favorite one. According to our latest poll, Dawn Treader is actually the second most popular book, followed by my favorite, The Last Battle. Exactly as I thought it would line up.

I feel that Dawn Treader can and will do better than Caspian. Especially under the trained eye of Michael Apted.


53 Responses to “Disney jumps ship on next Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader”

  1. Chaz says:

    I know. I am soo disapointed. I don’t think Fox should do it. I think Disney was the reason for the success, and the reason why PC flunked was because of IM and IJ. But 400 million is NOT bad. If I were Disney, I want a budget of 100 mil. Walden wants 140 mil. So why not compramise and say… 120 Mil? Ummm im a kid and i figured that out. I think DT will have an opening weekend of $45 mil with fox compared to a $65 mil with Disney. It will gross $350 world wide with fox and $590 with Disney. Opening day – $15 mil with fox $25 mil with disney. I defently want Disney to reconsider. I mean, woopdee doo if this movie flunks and they loose money – O WELL. They have a trillion other movies that have been SUCCESSFUL!!

  2. NarnianPrincess~Alaina says:

    Hey Chaz! I’m glad you posted your opinion but I think you’re a little off on this one. Disney isn’t the reason for Narnia’s success. Narnia is. Narnia is great, both as a story and as a film, and the success of The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe is because of the amazing movie that it really was. Now true, Disney helped a lot with promotion and advertising but, as you might recall, they SERIOUSLY dropped the ball on that account for Prince Caspian. If we can get a studio that will really help instead of hindering, we can have a great Dawn Treader, and an amazing rest of the series.
    This isn’t much of a Christmas gift, and I don’t mind saying that I’m pretty ticked at Disney right now. But all is not lost and I am yet very hopeful! :)
    Merry Christmas everybody!
    ~Alaina

  3. William Vaughn says:

    I am dissappointed. The first two films were done well. I hope they will retain their cast and much of the talent signed. I guess Disney got cold feet when they saw the decline in the revenue from film one to film two.I hope Dawn Treader exceeds expectations and makes Disney feel sorry that they walked away. William

  4. Scott Johnson says:

    I don’t think I ever actually saw a trailer for Prince Caspian on television, I think when I remember seeing it as a DVD in the store I thought it went straight to DVD or was a made-for-DVD/Television type of thing.

  5. Jonathan Fletcher says:

    Well, I guess its time for all of us to get out our pens and paper and write some people some letters. I think someone will eventually pick this up, maybe even Disney, if we can just let people know we want it.

    • Dolores Moore says:

      You are absolutely right! Deviating from the book so greatly to make it one huge battle scene was abhorrent! No wonder they lost sales! You don’t take a fantastic book, rewrite in your own plots and imagination (as if CS Lewis didn’t do it right) and then expect everyone to come flocking. And every business person knows about advertising… they set themselves up to fail (If you call more than doubling your investment a failure…) I hope the Dawn Treader stays true to the script, Fox takes it, and it goes blockbuster! Disney can sit with egg on its face.

  6. Tom says:

    Caspian didn’t fail because of Disney alone. It failed because it was a total recreation of Narnia and its key Characters. Here’s what a poster said on another blog,

    “the bad casting, the severe changes from book to film that I think ticked off the Narnia fan base and made them not attend the movie in as large of numbers as hoped, the poor writing of the script that basically made it one long battle sequence with little story or content, etc. can not all be landed on Disney’s shoulders.”

    Agree. Find someone who’ll be faithful to Narnia and the Lewis legacy and the movies will be blockbusters.

  7. Prince Caspifan says:

    This is depressing news for the holiday season. I doubt the third film will have visual cohesion with the previous films without Disney backing it and I wonder if the production will get started before Skandar and Georgie are too old to reprise their roles. Sad news.

    I know the most recent news says that the film is not dead, but it is hard to imagine that it isn’t at least on life support.

  8. The Lion Hearted says:

    AHHHHHHHHHHH! NOOOOOOOOOO! Come on Fox!! Disney, how could you?!?!?!?!?!

  9. Aravis says:

    No!!!… C’mon Disney… what’s wrong with u???!!! For me leaving the protect is a really bad idea… I love Narnia and I really want to see this movie, The Voyage of the Dawn treader is one of my favorite book… I don’t think that Fox could actually do it, they’re good but not as good as Disney.

  10. Lewis says:

    Im really sad…. This project is going to fail cause disneys not backing it…..

    WE NEED TO PROTEST!

  11. Kazgoroth says:

    Disney made a brilliant second movie and some obsessive fanboys bashed it. Now they got what they deserved.
    Wait to see how Foz will butcher the 3rd movie, if it is made at all. They will give it to the guys who made Eragon.
    You will regret your bashing of PC…

  12. Yellow Peril says:

    Disney sees Miley Cyrus as more important and more profitable than Narnia. Terrible!

  13. NarnianPrincess~Alaina says:

    -I agree with Paul 100%! Disney serves their own ego, and that is far more of a hinderance to Narnia than a help, if they (Doug Gresham/ CSLewis Co ect.) can get a production team that will be true to Narnia, and a studio that will allow them to be so, we will have a great and magnificent movie to look forward too.
    -Kazgoroth, what are you talking about?
    -Yellow Peril, yeah, I know, it’s pretty sad. :\

    Merry Christmas! :)
    ~Alaina

  14. judyfromkansas says:

    Well, this hurts…but I feel that the director of the second film, Prince Caspian, just did not understand the magic of Narnia. He changed so many things, left so much of the book out of the film…for crying out loud, the books have been in print for over 50 years! Obviously many many people had no trouble with the plots, the dialogue, the characters…things the directors seemed to feel weren’t good enough to put in the film.

    Plus the timing of the film’s release hurt it badly (that WAS a Disney blunder). Still, it hurts that Disney has dropped this series. There will be no Narnia attractions in the parks now, I guess…too bad…Disney and Narnia seemed like such a good fit…*sigh*…

  15. Stephen says:

    I just hope this doesn’t delay the movie any further, although I’m just glad it’s still getting made.

    Personally, I don’t really care which company makes it (I’m actually very open to see a change from Disney). I just care about 2 things:

    1) That all the books get adapted
    and
    2) That they all the film adaptations are made well and faithful to the books

    • wish~i~could~go~to~narnia~girl says:

      Go Stephen! I just want them to make all of them 2!!! I do like disney, but after learning that they dumped Narnia >:( it is going to be harder 2.

  16. I heart Narnia says:

    If they had released Prince Caspian in December instead of May, believe me it would have done a lot better. Instead of giving the third movie another chance, Disney is just going to drop it? that’s really sucks! I really believe that this whole situation is Disney fault!

  17. Prince Caspifan says:

    Kazgoroth,

    I agree with your frustration, but I have to say that I do understand fans who wanted a more accurate representation of the books. I loved the film Prince Caspian on its own merits, and I am devastated that Disney has dropped the series, but I know that complaining fans had little to do with it. They dropped the series because Prince Caspian did not make the money Disney wanted, and although we as fans disagree with why it failed to achieve the financial success of the first film, I think we can all agree that the series deserved Disney’s support for a third film.

    Disney abandoned Narnia at the first sign of a set back, and both Narnia and C.S. Lewis deserve better than that kind of shallow commitment.

  18. Craig says:

    I think it should’nt matter what company produces Dawn Treader as long as they do one thing they did’nt do in Prince Caspian—- that is FOLLOW THE BOOK and don’t add scenes that are not in the book. the changes to the story in PC are (in my opinion) the biggest reason PC did’nt make as much money as LWW.

  19. Prince Caspifan says:

    I think that the first film was successful in spite of the frozen waterfall scene, the bombing of London scenes, and the detailed depiction of the battle. Again, not to beat a dead horse, but changes alone did not hurt this film’s box office.

  20. Tom says:

    Yes, but the “changes” in LWW that you referred to were not major at all. I’ll tell you that changes hurt PC. I saw LWW 2 times with my daughter. Once with my wife and son. My daughter and I are the BIG fans in our family. We almost got up and walked out of Caspian, but decided to stay and see if the movie would pull itself out of its own silliness, but we were sorely dissappointed – in fact, my daughter (a 19 year old college student) was brought to tears as one silly scene followed another. My son and wife never saw it in the theaters on our advice. We were mostly satisfied with the first movie, inspite of a few complaints. However, PC was utterly disappointing. Here’s how it worked out for us:

    LWW – saw 2 times with daughter – 4 ticket sales.
    PC – saw 1 time with daughter – 2 ticket sales (50% drop).
    LWW – wife and son saw it 1 time – 2 ticket sales.
    PC – wife and son did not see it at all – 0 ticket sales (bringing total to approximately 66% loss).

    DVD Purchase – purchased at least 2 DVD’s and a soundtrack from LWW.
    DVD Purchase – none. Rented it once just to see if we would enjoy it a little more the 2nd time – even more dissappointing.

    Bottom line, even if a small percentage of families followed our pattern the movie was destined to perform poorly.

    It had everything to do with the changes, everything.

  21. Prince Caspifan says:

    I can see your point up until the “everything.”

    That would mean that the release date had NOTHING to do with the failure of PC which I find impossible to believe. I would also add, to both the “changes” argument and the “release date” argument, that LWW is infinitely more popular than all the other books are to the general public and that adds enormously to the appeal of seeing the first film.

    I understand that the box office take, for some, was affected by changes to the story, but that is not 100% of the reason for the film’s failure. I can see that as being as much as 30% of the problem and that is all.

    There were problems that were circumstantial as well.

  22. [...] leemos en NarniaFans, las razones fueron “logísticas y presupuestarias”. Además, la recaudación de El [...]

  23. NativeNYker says:

    what is this about? greedy disney suits need to be taught a lesson!

  24. Tom says:

    Agree that the Release date was not the best. But, it had only a very minor influence on the drop at the box office… 10% at most :)

  25. Prince Caspifan says:

    You know I love our discussions, Tom! Whatever we disagree on, I’m sure we’re both in agreement that we’d like another movie in the series.

    Best always,
    Prince Caspifan

  26. Tom says:

    Absolutely Caspifan!

  27. Kazgoroth says:

    If there is a third movie, we should be grateful for the studio and defend the 3rd movie, or the series will truly die.
    Which will be horrible.

  28. Tom says:

    Kazgoroth, if a 4th movie is made, it will have nothing to do with your or my opinion on this website. If a 4th is made, it will be because Dawn Treader was an excellent movie and a good money-maker for whomever picks it up. Either way, one shouldn’t feel obliged to support a poor movie. Afterall, no Narnia movie, rather than another movie on par with Caspian. Lewis’ Narnia deserves better, and true Narnia faithful deserve an extraordinary Dawn Treader.

  29. ang norton says:

    I love Narnia and often reread the whole series once every year. I can’t believe that these people change stories to try to get it right for the big screen, Caspian was a good story and some idiot tries to ruin it and hey presto, people don’t wish to see it (true Narnia fans anyway). I don’t think they should have touched the Narnia books at all because I knew this would happen, they will never make all seven books and I am slightly annoyed about that. The BBC only did a production of four of the stories and the other three weren’t touched. I think that the other three books are excellent and very under-rated. Could you imagine Uncle Andrew on the big screen with the first encounter of the White Witch? Could you imagine Bree the talking horse and Jewel the unicorn and the idiotic Shift the ape in the last battle? They could use humour as there is a lot of that about! They should have done them in reading order and followed them as closely as possible obviously giving it a slightly modern edge. Never mind! Please if you’re reading this, producers and directors, don’t touch the Narnia books, leave them as they are because you just can’t get them right. They’re not for money-making purposes, they are for entertainment and creativity and spirituality. Ahh, rant over!

  30. Tom says:

    Ang Norton, well said!

  31. Prince Caspifan says:

    I think we all have to be a little stunned that after the blockbuster success of the first film that Disney would pull the plug on the franchise with so many obvious reasons for the change in box office from the first film. All of the things we are discussing are easily solved if the studio had even the slightest investment in Narnia.

    It’s clear they don’t, and perhaps they never knew what they had.

  32. maggie perez says:

    I think that Steven Spielberg might look into taking charge of making this movie-he has the touch and the heart. Maybe he also could consider getting help from his bud-George Lucus!!!!!

  33. Mo says:

    I want all the movies to be made! I can’t believe they ruined PC by adding and taking scenes from the book. It did’t even feel like a NARNIA movie. LWW had differences and I can understand that.But Aslan was still the foundation of the movie and it felt like NARNIA. In PC it didn’t feel like NARNIA and Aslan was just a little forgotten lion character.PC made me mad and still does. Why did Disney have to drop VDT? ug. I just hope it gets made and is not as unbookish as PC.

  34. sue says:

    disney’s lost.

  35. matt says:

    First time posting. I didn’t bother going to see PC at the theatre because everyone and I mean everyone I spoke to who went said it was poorly written and dull. I certainly wasn’t going to spend $35 for the ‘special edition’ DVD or even $20 for the itunes copy either, so last night I rented it for the first time. What a fiasco. My wife, who went with me to see the LWW, thought it was pathetic and I went from being mildly amused to just plain angry by the end of the film. What a load of tripe!

    For the LWW I went to see it at the theatre as mentioned and purchased the extended set. The film did justice in the most part to the book and the characters, the second was almost unrecognizable as PC. I won’t be purchasing this on DVD and I am extremely glad I didn’t waste $30-40 going to see it at the theatre. The fact that Disney has pulled out of DT is sad in one sense, but I hope that the next group will just LEAVE THE BOOK ALONE. They are all good enough to stand on their own merits as LWW proved conclusively.

  36. Maggie says:

    I say we all boycott Disney. Let them see what a huge mistake they made!

  37. Maggie says:

    Oh, and Matt, I totally and completely disagree with you. You just need to keep a more open mind about PC.

  38. matt says:

    Maggie, you don’t agree that the books are strong enough to stand on their own merit? Personally I felt that the massive and wholly unnecessary changes made to PC ripped the spiritual heart out of the story. Where were the central themes of apostasy, faith in desperate circumstances and spiritual regeneration?

    The former was ignored completely, the second was reduced to Lucy riding out into the forest under a hail of crossbow bolts (another ludicrous departure from the book in a film full of them) and the third began and ended abruptly and ignobly in the last 3 minutes of the film. This film was an insult to C.S. Lewis and his fans, a beautiful and touching story reduced to a low budget ‘Chronicles of Spiderwick’ knock off.

    Sorry, still angry from first viewing.

  39. Phill says:

    Wow! I am totally baffled by the responses on here. I loved Prince Caspian – even with the changes. I’m sure the film could have been better if they had left a few things alone, but many of the changes they made worked fine. One of the biggest complaints I have read about the film was the treatment of Aslan; I feel that they did a better job with his character in the second film than in the first. He might not have as much screen time but his Presence is felt throughout the film.

    Apostasy? – let’s see: Nikabrik and Trumpkin were good examples of this.

    Faith? – perhaps it was pushed to the end, but showing the characters vain attempts to “fix” the problem on their own only made their decision to let Aslan save the day more powerful.

    Spiritual Regeneration? – This one is much more difficult to pull off in film than it is in literary form. In a book, you can devote pages of narrative to describe it, but in a film you have to speak with images – quickly and efficiently. I felt that the film did just enough to show the spiritual regeneration of Narnia by the end. Was it as powerful as the book’s version? No, but I will take what I can get.

    Low Budget ‘Chronicles of Spiderwick’? – That is just empty complaining. If there is anyone out there than can watch Prince Caspian and claim it looked “low budget” then you have an axe to grind and nothing is going to convince you otherwise.

    Having said all of that, I will not be upset if another studio partners with Walden and sees the importance of staying as close to the books as possible. There is a reason these books have been so successful. Studios shouldn’t mess with that flippantly.

  40. Prince Caspifan says:

    I couldn’t agree more, Phill.

  41. Tom says:

    Matt hit the nail on the head. PC was TERRIBLE!

  42. Prince Caspifan says:

    LOL!

  43. Matt says:

    The figures do not lie:

    LWW: $292,000,000 North America / $453,300,000 Worldwide = $745,000,000
    PC: $141,622,000 North America / $278,000,000 Worldwide = $420,000,000

    Less than 50% the North American gross of the first and only 60% Worldwide of the last film.

    Hence, bye bye Disney.

  44. Matt says:

    Here’s another stat for you: It took just one day for LWW to sell 4 million copies of the movie on DVD. PC? 10 days to sell the same amount.

    Link: http://jimhillmedia.com/blogs/jim_hill/archive/2008/12/29/monday-mouse-watch-numbers-do-in-disney-version-of-dawn-treader.aspx

    Hence, bye bye Disney.

  45. Prince Caspifan says:

    I agree that Disney made a purely financial decision here, but numbers are not always a sign of a films quality of franchise’s potential.

    Star Wars Domestic (Initial) $307,263,857

    The Empire Strikes Back Domestic (Initial) $209,398,025

    Total Lifetime Grosses

    Star Wars Worldwide: $775,398,007

    The Empire Strikes Back Worldwide $538,375,067 (This includes the 1997 release after twenty years of being viewed as the best of the saga)

    There are a lot of factors that affect box office. For example:

    The Matrix Domestic (Initial) $171,479,930

    The Matrix Reloaded Domestic (Initial) $281,576,461

    What is clear from all theses discussions, that many of us have had on this board, is that some fans liked Prince Caspian and some fans did not. ALL of us would like to see a well done Voyage of the Dawn Treader. I for one am convinced that these discussions are moot because in this economy Disney has dealt the franchise a deathblow.

    By the time the film gets funding the original actors will be too old, the creative team will have moved on, and they might as well just start fresh in 10 to 15 years. Sorry to be a pessimist.

    I for one feel like I got two good films out of this series, and am sad that it is most likely over. I know some of you only feel like you got one good film out of this series so the franchise may not be something you care to see continue.

  46. Maggie says:

    Matt, Sorry. Didn’t mean to say that I totally and completely disagree with you. I just don’t like anybody bashing anything with Narnia in its title. You are right. I do think the writers left out a lot of feelings and messages in the book which would have made PC a better movie. However, I still thoroughly enjoyed PC, even with all of its faults.

  47. Brad says:

    400 million is not enough money? what is the world coming to?

  48. Liz says:

    Very disappointed with disney!!
    I enjoyed both Narnia films and was really looking forward to “The voyage of the Dawn Treader”, one of my favourites in the series. And Reepicheep plays a big part in it!
    maybe all fans should bye an extra “Prince Caspian” DVD, as presents. Read somewhere that it has sold well. But really huge sales may encourage another company to take on the film.
    I hope the next film will be made, with the same cast!

  49. love ben barnes says:

    disney is so stupid to totally dump the narnia movies… i love narnia, and seriously! isn’t four hundred million a lot anyway? i mean, seriously, i don’t understand! and i really think that really cute mouse…well, all i can say is that i was expectant to see him, because in “Prince Caspian” it was sooo cute! and hey, i bought a lot of prince caspian stuff; prince caspian calendar, prince caspian BOOKMARKS, prince caspian STORYBOOKS, prince caspian BOOK, maybe even a prince caspian POSTER… by golly, isn’t that enough for them? i think disney has gotten greedy!

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