When it was announced after Christmas that Disney was dropping its deal with Walden Media to co-finance the Narnia series, I was a bit upset, but hopeful that someone else would pick it up and do a better job than the Mouse did with Prince Caspian. That someone else turned out to be Fox.
They are planning on getting the production of The Voyage of the Dawn Treader started soon with a projected release date of the 2010 holiday season – correcting one of the big Disney mistakes: releasing Prince Caspian as a psuedo-summer blockbuster in between Iron Man and Indiana Jones.
They also had too high of expectations for a book told almost entirely in a flashback (the screenplay changed that aspect of the story). The studio execs expected it to make as much money as The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, the most popular and recognizable name in the franchise. Caspian still ended up in the top ten in worldwide box office and despite the DVD being released late in the year, it still placed in the top ten selling DVDs.
Dawn Treader will rack in tons of money for Walden and Fox. Set on a boat sailing through various adventure laden islands, the third novel brings back some of the familiar and beloved characters from the previous novels (Edmund, Lucy, Prince Caspain and, of course, Reepicheep) as well as introduces Eustace, another character who makes an Edmund-esqe redemptive turn halfway through the story.
It seems odd that Disney would turn its back on the series with Dawn Treader coming up to focus attention (and money) on the next Pirates of the Caribbean film. Pirates will make money, no doubt. But Dawn Treader can capture some of that high seas magic while providing families with smaller children a better alternative.
I’m thankful that some “deep magic” was at work in Hollywood to see the film franchise make an Aslan-like resurrection.