As you all know by now, Disney decided recently not to continue co-producing and co-financing the Narnia film franchise. This does seem unfortunate, but there is hope. “There’s a right bit more than hope. Aslan is on the move.” Quite literally. Walden Media isn’t giving up hope on the series yet. Apparently, they will be shopping it around to other studios to see if anyone is interested. But what studio might be interested? Why would a studio pick up this franchise? Even supposing it gets picked up, is it possible for the franchise to survive the studio-hop?
Many think it quite likely that Fox might be interested. Fox and Walden have worked together many times in the past. (They eventually formed Fox Walden.) Also, Fox is rather sans franchises right now. They have the X-Men characters andâ€¦ that’s pretty much it. Not only are they without franchises, they are also without many strong tentpoles. An established franchise that shows potential could really be what Fox needs right now.
Furthermore, even Disney admitted that the unsuccessful box office of Prince Caspian was due, in large part, to the crowded release month. If it had been released in December (particularly in 2007), the box office very well could have been near double what it came to. It would certainly have been a few hundred million more worldwide.
If treated properly, the Narnia franchise has huge potential. The question is if Fox (or another studio) agrees about this potential and if they are willing to dish out $150 million to see if the property proves valuable. To restate what has been said many times before, this is a delicate franchise. In 2005, Disney showed how to market Narnia. In 2008, Disney tried something new and bold, but ended up showing how NOT to market Narnia. It’s really that simple now because we know the rules of the game. To oversimplify: Make the right movie and market it to the right audience.
The idea of franchises studio-hopping isn’t unheard of either. For example, back in 2004, Revolution Studios released Hellboy to moderate success. The studio was not displeased with the box office (it ended up slightly in the green, much like Prince Caspian will after a brief period on DVD), but decided against going forward with a sequel and they let go of their right to release the sequel. Universal nabbed that right up pretty quickly and released Hellboy II: The Golden Army in 2008. The Golden Army grossed a bit more than the first installment. Universal was pleased and wants to go forward with a third installment when series director Guillermo Del Toro gets some free time (a busy, in-demand filmmaker, that man is). There is no reason why this sort of thing shouldn’t or couldn’t happen with the Narnia franchise.