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article regarding the future of the 'Narnia' film series...

Old 11-20-08, 06:00 PM
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article regarding the future of the 'Narnia' film series...

From jimhillmedia.com .....


Do you recall that shindig that Walt Disney Studios held at the Kodak Theatre back in September. Where the 26 movies that the Mouse House now has in the works -- among them highly anticipated sequels like "Pirates of the Caribbean 4," "Toy Story 3," "National Treasure 3" and "Tron 2" -- were all heavily hyped.

Did you notice something significant missing from that list? Like -- say -- the third installment of the "Chronicles of Narnia" series, "The Voyage of the Dawn Treader." Back in September of 2007, Disney announced that "Narnia III" would be the Studio's big release for May of 2010. But then in August of this year, Mickey suddenly changed his mind. Now "Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time" would be Disney's big release for May of 2010. And as for "Voyage of the Dawn Treader" ... That project kind of went into stealth mode.

Don't get me wrong. Walt Disney Pictures -- along with its production partner, Walden Media -- is still reportedly moving forward with the third installment of "The Chronicles of Narnia." Director Michael Apted has been riding herd on "Dawn Treader" 's development since June of 2007. Actors have been cast ("Son of Rambow" star Will Poulter has been hired to play Pevensie cousin Eustace Scrubb) and studio space has been lined up (The bulk of this movie will be shot at Baja Studios in Rosarito Beach) for a four-to-five month-long shoot which is allegedly slated to begin in late January.

Which is all well & good. Except that Disney hasn't actually greenlit production of "Voyage of the Dawn Treader." Not yet, anyway.

What's the hold-up? Well ... Part of the problem here is that "Prince Caspian" didn't do nearly as well as Disney & Walden had hoped it would this past Summer. This $200 million follow-up to the studio's 2005 blockbuster, "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" only earned $141.6 million during its initial domestic release. Which is less than half of what the first "Narnia" movie earned during its stateside release back in December of 2005.

Given that many of the suits at the Studio thought that "Prince Caspian" was a far stronger film than "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe," Disney CEO Bob Iger blamed this movie's under-performance on there being "too many movies ... in the marketplace." That -- due to the surprising strength of "Iron Man," "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" and the other summer blockbusters that crowded in around "Prince Caspian" -- this "Narnia" sequel wound up coming up short at the box office.


Mind you, given that foreign ticket sales for the second installment of the "Chronicles of Narnia" series also showed the same sort of drop-off (i.e. "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" earned $453.3 million during its initial overseas run, while "Prince Caspian" stalled out after only earning $278.0 million), there are other theories now being floated at the Studio to explain away "PC" 's perceived under-performance. Chief among these being that many moviegoers worldwide -- having seen the first "Narnia" movie and found it wanting -- weren't all that eager to see a "Narnia" sequel. Which is why only half of the "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" 's audience turned out to see "Prince Caspian."

That said, Disney & Walden Media still expect to make a tidy profit off of "Narnia II," particularly when the DVD & Blu-ray versions of "Prince Caspian" go on sale next month. Given that over 11 million units of "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" have been purchased since this disc first went on sale back in April of 2006 ... Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment is hoping that "Prince Caspian" sells just as well.

But given that the second installment of the "Chronicles of Narnia" series cost $200 million to make and an additional $65 million to market ... It's going to take "Prince Caspian" quite a bit longer than "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" to officially turn a profit.

Which is why -- given that Disney & Walden Media execs are concerned that "The Voyage of the Dawn Treader" may earn even less than "Prince Caspian" did -- strict cost control measures have now been put into place on the third installment of the "Chronicles of Narnia" film series.

This is why the original plans to shoot "Dawn Treader" on location in Malta, Iceland and Prague have been dropped. Now two-thirds of this film will be shot in Mexico in the huge water tank that James Cameron used while he was shooting "Titanic."

As for "Dawn Treader" 's budget ... From what Disney insiders have been telling me, that's part of the reason that the third installment of the "Chronicles of Narnia" film series didn't actually start shooting last month as had been previously announced. Walden Media reportedly wants Disney to go halfsies on a $140 million production. But given that Disney is contractually obligated to cover the costs of all prints & advertising on the "Narnia" movies ... Well, Disney's supposedly pushing for a $100 million version of "The Voyage of the Dawn Treader" instead.

And as for "Dawn Treader" 's release date ... Having learned " ... a good lesson," Iger is now allegedly pushing for the third installment of the "Chronicles of Narnia" film series to be released during the same time that was "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" was. Which now translates to December 2010 (Which was when "Rapunzel" was originally supposed to be released. But given that that animated feature's directors were recently replaced, it's now looking far more likely that this Walt Disney Animation Studios production will be released sometime in calendar 2011).

Now as to the question of Disney & Walden Media producing any more "Narnia" movies after "The Voyage of the Dawn Treader" ... Look, as recently as August of 2007, Disney officials were still gung-ho about the idea of producing film versions of all seven of C.S. Lewis' fantasy novels. With "Prince Caspian" hitting theaters in May of 2008, and then each subsequent "Narnia" movie debuting in May until this film series officially wrapped up with the release of "The Last Battle" in May of 2013.

Then -- just one month later -- Disney backed off on this idea, saying that " ... in consideration of the challenging schedules for our young actors, Walt Disney Pictures and Walden Media have chosen to delay the start of production for 'The Voyage of the Dawn Treader' until Summer 2008."

Truth be told, there has never really been a very strong consensus about how and when the further installments of "The Chronicles of Narnia" film series should be shot. Bob Beltz of Walden Media once spoke of a fast paced shooting schedule for "Prince Caspian," "The Voyage of the Dawn Treader" and "The Silver Chair."


But now ... Well, as "Narnia" producer Mark Johnson put it during his appearance at this year's New York Comic Con: "Right now, we have no plans to go beyond 'The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.' If (that movie is) successful, I'd love to do 'The Silver Chair' after that."

To be blunt, Johnson put the onus back on the "Narnia" audience. Saying that " ... as long as you keep embracing these movies, we'll make all seven." With the unsaid part of this statement being "If you guys don't turn out in sufficient number for 'The Voyage of the Dawn Treader' in 2010, the series stops there."

Which -- from what some Mouse House insiders tell me -- would suit Disney just fine. Why For? ... Well, certain members of the current Mouse House management team view the "Chronicles of Narnia" as an Eisner legacy. A holdover from the bad old days when Michael -- back when he was battling with Roy over the whole "Save Disney" movement and seemingly on the brink of letting Pixar slip away -- needed some sort of good news to share with Disney stockholders.

Which is why -- given that the Mouse House (at that time, anyway) lacked its own hugely popular movie series like "Harry Potter" and/or "Lord of the Rings" -- Eisner was eager to get into bed with Phil Anschutz's Walden Media in order to make "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe." With the hope that this pricey production might then be the springboard to a whole new film franchise.

But that was 2004. And this is 2008, with Michael Eisner gone and Pixar now a wholly-owned subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company. And given that Mickey now has a hugely popular film franchise of his very own (i.e. the "Pirates of the Caribbean" movies) ... Pushing ahead with production of all seven of the "Narnia" movies didsn't seem like such a smart move anymore. Particularly if "The Voyage of the Dawn Treader" winds up earning less than "Prince Caspian" did this past summer.

So if you're a "Chronicles of Narnia" fan who really wants to see Disney go ahead with production of all five of the remaining C.S. Lewis fantasy books ... My advice to you is -- on December 2nd, when the DVD version of "Prince Caspian" officially goes on sale -- buy both the single disc and the 3-disc collector's edition of this movie.

You see, Disney's reportedly waiting for the numbers on that first week of "Prince Caspian" DVD sales before it then locks in "The Voyage of the Dawn Treader" 's production budget. And the more money that that "Narnia" disc makes ... Well, the better "Dawn Treader" will wind up looking. Which hopefully will have some sort of impact on the third installment of the "Chronicles of Narnia" 's chances of box office success.
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Old 11-20-08, 06:28 PM
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Im not a Narnia Fan But I think if they released the sequel around XMAS it would have done at least $60 million more domestically.
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Old 11-20-08, 06:31 PM
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^I agree with that on principle but I found Caspian to be deathly boring and think it was word of mouth that helped sink it early.
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Old 11-20-08, 07:07 PM
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I still havent' seen Caspian, but do hope they make Treader, it was always by far my favorite of the books and I'd like to see what they do.
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Old 11-20-08, 08:17 PM
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I hope they release more. I always thought Prince Caspian was the worst book in the series. They just need to get over the hump.
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Old 11-20-08, 09:54 PM
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I didn't really like the first Narnia, but I thought Prince Caspian was great. Hope they get a real shot at the third one, I know I'm not sharing this news with my wife until it's official, she'll have a damn heart attack.
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Old 11-21-08, 01:28 AM
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Yeah, the first movie was dull as dirt. So never saw the second one.

Filmin gin New Aealand was probably an unfortunate choice too. I kept expecting the damn Rohirrim to come riding over the hilltop.

Last edited by Panda Phil; 11-21-08 at 01:32 AM.
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Old 11-21-08, 02:53 AM
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I hope they realease a 3rd one. I saw (and liked) the first one in the theater but couldn't get out to see the 2nd one (like they said, there were simply too many other movies I wanted to see out). I will be buying it on Blu-ray.
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Old 11-21-08, 08:29 AM
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They were expecting Potter to be out at this time of the year and figured Summer would give them a better shot. Well here we are, and there is no Potter. In fact, there is no December event movie at all. Whoops.
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Old 11-21-08, 08:52 AM
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Pretty much loved the first, but Prince Caspian was awful.
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Old 11-21-08, 11:36 AM
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I liked the first one quite a bit, but can't say I loved it. There was definitely some magic there though, especially with James McAvoy's character, Tilda Swinton, and the youngest girl.

Caspian, other than a couple of good sequences, was as dull as a box of rocks, and insultingly preachy on top of that.
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Old 11-21-08, 12:21 PM
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I think FOX is hoping The Day The Earth Stood Still will be the event movie for december, just like I Am Legend was last year
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Old 11-21-08, 12:21 PM
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I saw and loved both films(in the theater) and will be there day one for Dawn Treader. I bought Narnia on DVD twice, and on Blu and have Caspian on order. I'm doing my part.

It will be depressing if the franchise doesn't finish.
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Old 11-21-08, 01:30 PM
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Originally Posted by JJE-187 View Post
I think FOX is hoping The Day The Earth Stood Still will be the event movie for december, just like I Am Legend was last year
Unfortunately, it probably will be. Too bad, if you have a brain just watch the original.
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Old 11-21-08, 04:12 PM
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Chief among these being that many moviegoers worldwide -- having seen the first "Narnia" movie and found it wanting -- weren't all that eager to see a "Narnia" sequel.
This sums up my reason for not seeing it right there. I didn't care for the first film at all. I found it dull, plus the scenery was either too bright and 'CGI perfect', or it felt too soundstagey... either way artificial.
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Old 11-21-08, 04:21 PM
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And the reviews on Caspian were worse than they were for the first, IIRC.
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Old 11-21-08, 04:59 PM
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Do you recall that shindig that Walt Disney Studios held at the Kodak Theatre back in September. Where the 26 movies that the Mouse House now has in the works -- among them highly anticipated sequels like "Pirates of the Caribbean 4," "Toy Story 3," "National Treasure 3" and "Tron 2" -- were all heavily hyped.

Did you notice something significant missing from that list?
Originality.
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Old 11-21-08, 05:08 PM
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Originally Posted by MoviePage View Post
Caspian, other than a couple of good sequences, was as dull as a box of rocks, and insultingly preachy on top of that.
Much like the books. Face it: the source material leaves much to be desired compared to those other film series, Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings.
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Old 11-21-08, 05:19 PM
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Originally Posted by Breakfast with Girls View Post
Much like the books. Face it: the source material leaves much to be desired compared to those other film series, Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings.
I guess I'll give you that, although not everyone liked the Potter books.
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Old 11-21-08, 05:58 PM
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I walked out of the theater during the first one, and will not see another in the series, ever. Boring and awful, nothing like the LotR films IMO. And I did read the story as a kid actually.
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Old 11-22-08, 01:46 PM
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Originally Posted by Panda Phil View Post
Yeah, the first movie was dull as dirt. So never saw the second one...
Originally Posted by DRG View Post
Chief among these being that many moviegoers worldwide -- having seen the first "Narnia" movie and found it wanting -- weren't all that eager to see a "Narnia" sequel.
This sums up my reason for not seeing it right there. I didn't care for the first film at all. I found it dull, plus the scenery was either too bright and 'CGI perfect', or it felt too soundstagey... either way artificial.
Originally Posted by Breakfast with Girls View Post
Originally Posted by MoviePage View Post
...
Caspian, other than a couple of good sequences, was as dull as a box of rocks, and insultingly preachy on top of that.
Much like the books. Face it: the source material leaves much to be desired compared to those other film series, Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings.
I agree with these views. I would guess that there are enough people who feel this way to explain the relatively poor performance of Prince Caspian. I read the books as a child but have no desire to revist them and the first movie sure didn't change that.
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Old 11-24-08, 10:03 AM
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Originally Posted by mdc3000 View Post
^I agree with that on principle but I found Caspian to be deathly boring and think it was word of mouth that helped sink it early.
and I think it didn't help that it was a very violent movie geared to youngsters.
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Old 11-25-08, 08:23 AM
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Saw a commercial for the "Prince Caspian" DVD on television the other day, and was sort of surprised because I didn't even know the movie had been made yet.

If the second movie underperformed, then I think this series most likely done. They're huge effects films that require monster budgets, and it's generally a given that sequels have diminshing returns. If PC only earned half of what TLTWATW earned, then it's safe to assume that Dawn Treader would pull in significantly less than PC.

(Haven't seen any of these movies myself since I despise the Narnia Chronicles books.)
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Old 11-25-08, 08:32 AM
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Originally Posted by Josh-da-man View Post
Saw a commercial for the "Prince Caspian" DVD on television the other day, and was sort of surprised because I didn't even know the movie had been made yet.

If the second movie underperformed, then I think this series most likely done. They're huge effects films that require monster budgets, and it's generally a given that sequels have diminshing returns. If PC only earned half of what TLTWATW earned, then it's safe to assume that Dawn Treader would pull in significantly less than PC.

(Haven't seen any of these movies myself since I despise the Narnia Chronicles books.)
Not necessarily, Harry Potter is a good example of that, where Movie 2 and 3 made substantially less than #1 but 4 and 5 made substantially more than 2 and 3.

It has been pretty well accepted that Caspian is the weakest book in the series, the reviews were piss poor and it was poorly timed. And despite that, it still made $420m worldwide.
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Old 11-25-08, 09:32 AM
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Loved the first one, but the second one felt more like an expansion pack than a sequel. I won't be upset if the series doesn't continue...but I'll be there to see it if it does.
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