Chronicles of Narnia: End of Franchise

Dec 29, 2008–Disney’s decision not to co-finance the third movie in Walden Media’s “Chronicles of Narnia” series has left the future of the fantasy franchise in jeopardy.

“We are no longer going forward with the movie due to budgetary considerations and other logistics,” a Disney spokeswoman said, though she declined to offer specifics on the studio’s decision to sever its ties with Walden.

Disney’s move comes as a result of disappointing box office for the second “Narnia” movie, “Prince Caspian.” “Caspian,” released in May, grossed $419 million worldwide compared with $745 million for the first, “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe,” in 2005.

Disney’s move is surprising given that Walden had trimmed the budget of the next “Narnia” picture, “The Voyage of the Dawn Treader,” considerably. The film was set to be made on a budget in the $100-$150 million range, less than the $200 million-plus that “Prince Caspian” reportedly cost.  Michael Apted was attached to direct “The Voyage of the Dawn Treader,” which was scheduled to lense in early 2009.

A number of Walden executives left the company within the past year, including co-founder Cary Granat, who made a surprise exit last month. And the joint venture Fox Walden has been shuttered, having been absorbed by 20th Century Fox’s marketing division.

Walden was co-founded by billionaire financier Phil Anschutz aiming to produce three to five educational family films per year. But the company, which endured the high-profile flop “City of Ember” this year, has reduced its output and has only two films set for release in 2009: the high school-set music pic “Bandslam” and the Duane Johnson starrer “Tooth Fairy.”