Narnia Production Company Walden Media is Restructuring

Walden MediaA couple of days ago we learned that Walden Media, the company that brought us three new Narnia movies, is undergoing some restructuring.  In doing so, they are laying off nearly 25% of their employees, cutting down from 50 to about somewhere around 38.  With the restructuring comes a new focus for Walden Media’s film and television production activities.  They will continue to seek out the uplifting and inspiring stories for families that they’ve focused on from the beginning.  They’re going to be focusing on projects submitted by third parties.

They’re continuing production on their Walden Family Theater projects for Hallmark Channel, such as The Watsons Go to Birmingham and Dear Dumb Diary.  They’re also continuing their co-productions for theatrical release.  Walden Media and the Weinstein Company are continuing work on The Giver, as well as their reboot of Benji and a feature film version of The Berenstain Bears.

There’s no word about any of the productions beyond these, but they do have a long list of films that they’ve optioned over the years, and I’m hopeful that they’ll continue to produce quality family films with whomever they partner in the future.

Narnia Movies to air on Hallmark Channel as part of Walden Family Theater

Walden Family TheaterWalden Media has teamed up with Hallmark Channel, Arc Entertainment, Walmart, and Proctor & Gamble to bring back the family TV movie night.  When I was a kid, it was part of a weekly tradition for our family.  These were the titles it went under: The Disney Sunday Movie (1986–1988), The Magical World of Disney (1988–1996), then finally back to The Wonderful World of Disney (1997–2008).

Walden Family Theater will air on Friday nights, on Hallmark Channel, beginning on March 15 with Return to Nim’s Island.  This is the sequel to 2008’s Nim’s Island, but now features Bindi Irwin in the title role.

There will be six new original movies aired each year, and released on DVD on the Tuesday after they air, at Walmart.

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The Future of the Narnia Film Series with Walden Media’s Micheal Flaherty

A new interview was just released by World Magazine, in which they have interviewed Walden Media’s president Micheal Flaherty.  He explains what we’ve known for a while, but it’s always good to have the explanation direct from someone that is involved.  The interesting part of it is the glimmer of hope that he has that they can continue making the movies.

Before you ask, “didn’t Walden Media lose the rights?”  Well, the answer is actually not “yes” or “no,” but rather “it’s complicated.”

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Commentary: Five Highs – and Lows – of the Narnia Films (Part 2)

As I recently outlined (in part 1), the three Narnia films (“The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe,” “Prince Caspian,” and “The Voyage of the Dawn Treader”) offered fans and casual viewers much to enjoy.  The story, casting and technical elements were generally good, and I’d argue that overall the films got more right than they got wrong.  Having reviewed five highlights of the Narnia trilogy, its time to take a look at the lowlights.
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Commentary: Five Highs – and Lows – of the Narnia Films (Part 1)

Its a safe bet that we won’t see any Narnia films in the near future.  And that’s too bad, because the first three films from C.S. Lewis’ best-selling books were technically-competent and generally well-executed.  In formula- and sequel-heavy Hollywood, the films were something unique, something different.  “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe,” “Prince Caspian” and “The Voyage of the Dawn Treader” each had their moments – some good and some bad.  Today we take a gander at the Narnia films’ five best elements.  Check back in a day or two for the five worst moments.


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Douglas Gresham talks about Future of Narnia Films, Screwtape Letters and Space Trilogy

The Lion’s Call has a report about the future of C.S. Lewis’ work on film.  In particular, he spoke a bit about the future of Narnia on the big screen, with his hopes for the franchise, as well as other properties such as The Screwtape Letters and The Space Trilogy.

It was at a talk he gave at Oxford.  He would love to continue making the Narnia films, but there is a seven year moratorium on the series if Walden Media is not involved.  We’re into the second year of that moratorium, and possibly the third.  Plus, if Walden Media releases the moratorium (something that I’m sure takes loads of legal paperwork), it could be sooner.  The purpose of a moratorium at all is to protect a studio from having the production make only one movie with them, and jump to another studio with the next film and so on.

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More information on the Future of Narnia on Film

Okay, the story from this weekend has brought about hope, which is always a good thing.  I was very happy to see how people took to the potential for more Narnia was overwhelmingly positive.

I reached out to some sources of mine within the production team, and what I was told has made all of this even more confusing than before.  I have seen NarniaWeb’s story on the situation, and there are some facts that they have that don’t line up exactly with what I have.  And that also compounds the confusion.  Whether or not Walden Media lost the ‘film rights’ or allowed the ‘option’ to expire depends on who you ask.  What that means also depends on who you ask.  As far as I know, Walden is still the only company that can move forward with another film, unless they sell the rights to another studio.

Tirian and I spoke on the phone about all of this, trying to come up with something that we can say, that is factual without a doubt, and this is it:

The bottom line is this: It will be a long time before another Narnia film is on the silver screen.

If Walden Media started tomorrow on another Narnia, the earliest the film could hit the big screen is three years from now.  Movies take a long time to produce.

I wish that I could give more details about the why and what that is happening, or not happening, behind the scenes.  There may or may not be scripts being written.  There may or may not be ongoing negotiations.  We’re trying to get information that we can tell you from both studios and the Estate.  It’s not my place to spread that kind of information though.  I can only report what I hear that isn’t mentioned in confidence.

We will hear about any further developments and report about them when we can.  Just remember that it could be a very long time.  And that, I’m afraid, is all that I have that I can report at this moment.  And remember, as folks have pointed out in the comments, we still have the books our imaginations and each other.

Did Walden Media Leave the Narnia Franchise? No.

Many have been e-mailing, asking if we had seen the stories that broke yesterday that claimed Walden Media had decided not to pick up their option for the Narnia franchise.  Those reports were posted prematurely.  I can report that negotiations on the next film are ongoing and that Walden Media, Twentieth Century Fox and the C.S. Lewis Estate are still very much discussing the next films in the Narnia franchise.  This is a story that we’ve known since April and were the first to learn about, but after discussing with a few producers and the webmasters of the other two fan sites, we decided not to report it because things were actually still as they had been… in negotiations… and Walden Media has responded the same way both times: they’re still hopeful to make more Narnia films.

There is nothing more to say that wouldn’t be conjecture at this point.  I have been in contact with a couple of the producers from the film series, however, and they mention that negotiations can be both very long and very frustrating at times, but that these things are completely normal in the film industry.

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Box Office Analysis: Voyage of the Dawn Treader

Now that home video sales of “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader” have begun, it is not surprising that the film is still playing in only a handful of theaters.  The exception is Japan, where VDT is still in release.

That makes it a good time to take a look at the film’s box office performance.  How did VDT perform at the box office compared to its predecessor, “Prince Caspian”?

Hit the jump to find out.

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Walden Media’s Flaherty Confirms: Walden and Fox talking Magician’s Nephew Movie

According to a report from NRB’s Sunday Super Session in Nashville, Dekkie writes that Walden Media and Fox are talking about doing The Magician’s Nephew next.  This confirms what we reported a little while ago, even though many polls put The Silver Chair into the leading spot, that book has proven to be much more popular with fans.

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