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Saving Narnia From Disney

BY Tom Hoopes

| Posted 2/1/09 at 12:14 PM

 

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader is on, without Disney now. What’s not to like for a studio about a series that made $420 million?

MONEY

“The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe,” cost $180 million to make and raked in $745 million.

“Prince Caspian,” cost $225 million but made only made $420 million.

Via Headline bistro yesterday, we found the Washington Times reporting that as one of the reasons “Twentieth Century Fox Jan. 29 took over the project to make a third Narnia film. Disney had been teaming up with Walden Media, which the Times says is “owned by conservative Christian businessman Philip Anschutz and responsible for smaller-scale family hits including Because of Winn-Dixie and Nim’s Island. Others:

KIDS

Lion was a family friendly, with talking Beavers, Santa Claus and a little girl at the center of the story.

Caspian was darker, more teen-age oriented, more violent and came out 2 and a half years later.

CHRISTMAS

Lion came out in the family-movie season. Caspian came out in the adventure movie season.

Michael Medved thought it should have come out at Christmas: “There’s an attempt by major studios to basically ignore Christmas. It’s very, very weird,” he says. “If you look at all the downbeat, Holocaust-themed movies, six of them were released around Christmas. I suspect ‘Prince Caspian’ would have done much better had it been released in the holiday season. It’s a time for family movies.”

FIDELITY

The Caspian book “was a story about a boy in his early teens at most, and they turned it into a 25-year-old hunk,” says one expert in the piece. “It lost a lot of its purpose because [the Lewis book] was really about a boy coming of age.”

Another “suggests that the Lord of the Rings movies were so successful because they were faithful adaptations of J.R.R. Tolkien’s books, while with Caspian, “Disney tried to jazz it up.”

The article wonders if Voyage of the Dawn Treader is going to follow the trend and tank, or buck the trend and sail.