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10/18/2011

Is The Chronicles of Narnia franchise over? Walden Media's film rights expire


By all rights, The Chronicles of Narnia franchise should have been bigger, or at least as big as the Harry Potters and Twilights. The classic C.S. Lewis series of children's books has just as devoted a fanbase, and has been delighting people for the last sixty years. However the film adaptations have been met mostly with lukewarm response, which has caused all types of behind the scenes headaches.

Disney distributed the first two films, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, followed up by Prince Caspian. Andrew Adamson directed them both, and the first hauled in over $700M. A healthy start that promised a lucrative endeavor for years to come. Lewis wrote seven Narnia novels, so it only seemed logical they'd adapt as many as possible as long as they kept making money. Then two years later, Prince Caspian proved to be only a minor hit, grossing $419M against a $220M+ budget. Disney didn't like the dwindling returns, and fought with rights owners Walden Media to get the costs on the next film, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, slashed. That didn't work out, and 20th Century Fox stepped in. 'Dawn Treader' fared no better, earning $415M but with only a $150M budget. The plan was tentatively set in place for the next film to be The Magician's Nephew, the sixth in the series.

But now a recent development has put the future of the Narnia film universe in jeopardy. Doug Gresham, the step son of C.S. Lewis, revealed on the HJ Live! show that Walden Media's film rights had expired, meaning it may be some time before another Narnia film hits screens...

"If you’re aware Walden’s contract with the [C S Lewis] Company has expired, that’s true. And that leaves us in a situation that, for a variety of reasons, we cannot immediately produce another Narnian Chronicle movie. But it is my hope that the Lord will spare me and keep me fit and healthy enough so that in three or four years time we can start production on the next one."

After three or four years it may be in everbody's best interests to start from scratch. The Narnia films to me were always the victim of some really poor casting. While Ben Barnes might've gotten a few ladies all hot 'n bothered, the other leads lacked personality. Plus for all the money that was spent, the special effects were pretty ordinary.