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The last Narnia movie Prince Caspian earned Disney a cool $200 million or so in pure profit after production costs, and you’d think that would be enough to guarantee at least one more sequel. You would be wrong.
The third movie in the Narnia series (and my favorite of C.S. Lewis’s books), Voyage of the Dawn Treader had been in pre-production at Disney, on track for a 2010 release date. Now though, Disney has pulled out. HR reports that Disney will not co-produce and co-finance the next Narnia movie.
Though the last movie did indeed make a lot of money, Disney saw the writing on the wall. It made money, but a lot less than the first film. Perhaps more importantly, the buzz over Prince Caspian was decidedly muted. The film was barely more than an afterthought in a summer full of Batman and exciting Robert Downey Jr. projects. Clearly Disney expects that downward trend to continue with Dawn Treader and they’ve decided to get out while the getting is good.
That doesn’t mean the Narnia series is dead and in the box. Walden Media is the production company which has been making these movies for Disney and they already have a strong relationship with 20th Century Fox, via their Fox Walden Studios. Walden will probably start shopping Dawn Treader around to other studios looking for financing and there’s at least a chance they might be able to talk Fox or someone else into funding Aslan’s land. Or maybe they too will take a look at the mounting disinterest in this series, compare it to the tremendous cost of getting these movies done (the first two cost in the $150 - $200 million range) and take a pass on it. For now Aslan is lost in development limbo.