When Disney announced on Christmas Eve that it would no longer fund the Chronicles of Narnia movies, some wondered if the franchise was dead as Walden Media was left holding a very expensive ball–essentially all dressed up with no place to go (and not enough money to spend).
Various stories have circulated about exactly why Disney bailed–everything from economic reasons to disagreements with Walden founder/funder Phil Anschutz–but the big question still remained: Would any major studio pick up the ball? Because Walden didn't have the money to move forward without any help.
That question was answered Wednesday when several publications–Variety, the LA Times, and the Hollywood Reporter–all ran stories saying that 20th Century Fox will pick up the tab to co-finance the third Narnia film, Voyage of the Dawn Treader.
Variety reports that Fox and Walden "are still working out budget and script issues, but the hope is to shoot the film at the end of summer for a holiday 2010 release through the Fox Walden label." (Fox and Walden have partnered on most of Walden's other releases; only the Narnia films–The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe and Prince Caspian–were released through Disney.)
The Variety article also notes that while Caspian didn't earn nearly as much money as LWW, Caspian is also "considered the least commercially appealing of the seven C.S. Lewis Narnia novels" but nonetheless "ranked No. 10 in global box office performance last year. Dawn Treader is considered to be a more family film-friendly book, and the goal is to get back to the magical aspects present in the first Narnia pic but mostly absent from Prince Caspian."