Weeks after Disney decided not to bankroll another sequel in The Chronicles of Narnia series due to spiralling costs, 20th Century Fox has swooped in and rescued the big-screen franchise from almost certain doom by agreeing to team up with Walden Media to co-finance, market and distribute the next instalment, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.
According to Variety, Fox had first dibs on Dawn Treader because it already markets and distributes Walden movies under its Fox Walden label.
Walden, which owns the rights to the seminal C.S. Lewis fantasy novels, needed a new partner after the Mouse House pulled out, citing “budgetary and logistical reasons.”
The move came after the second in the series, Prince Caspian, took in $141 million domestically and $278 million worldwide. That was a far cry from the franchise launching The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, which grossed $292 million in North America and a whopping $453 million overseas.
Despite the diminishing returns, 20th Century Fox thinks it can do better. The studio sees Narnia kid-friendly franchise to compete with Warner Bros.’ Harry Potter juggernaut.
With Fox coming aboard Dawn Treader, the good news is that all principal above-the-line talent will remain in place, including director Michael Apted and stars Ben Barnes, Skandar Keynes and Georgie Henley as Caspian, Edmund and Lucy, respectively.
Filming on the sequel, which was supposed to get rolling this summer on the Fox-owned lot in Rosarito, Mexico, where Titanic was filmed, will now move to Fox’s studio complex in Australia following a spate of drug-related kidnappings and killings in the Baja region.
The Voyage of the Dawn Treader is aiming to sail into theatres during the 2010 holiday season.