Disney To Distribute, Co-finance LWW

The Walt Disney Studios Enters Into Agreement With Walden Media to Produce ‘The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe’
Monday March 1, 2:42 pm ET
First Film in C.S. Lewis’ Landmark Series Scheduled to be Released Christmas, 2005

BURBANK, Calif., March 1 /PRNewswire/ — The Walt Disney Studios has entered into an agreement with Walden Media to co-finance and distribute the long-awaited motion picture “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe,” the first book published in C.S. Lewis’ famed series, it was announced today (3/1) by Dick Cook, chairman of The Walt Disney Studios, and Cary Granat, chief executive officer of Walden Media. The live-action film will be directed by Andrew Adamson (“Shrek,” “Shrek 2”) and is scheduled to be released Christmas, 2005, by Walt Disney Pictures. The agreement allows for the continuation of the partnership for future films in the series.
“The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe,” the first in an exciting series of films in the making and based on the phenomenal bestselling novels, concerns a war between good and evil, pitting the magnificent lion Aslan against the forces of darkness in the magical world of Narnia. A White Witch has used her dark powers to keep Narnia in winter for 100 years, but it is foretold that four humans will be able to help Aslan break the spell. When the Pevensie siblings — Lucy, Susan, Edmund, and Peter — discover the magic of Narnia by entering the enchanted world through a wardrobe, the stage is set for a classic battle of epic proportions.

Commenting on the announcement, Cook said, “With an exciting and meaningful plot and well-drawn, emotional characters, ‘The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe’ has the potential to be just the start of an extraordinary series of films; the exceptional imagination present in the novels follows in the best Disney tradition. We’re pleased to be partnered once again with Walden Media — I think this is just the kind of movie audiences are looking for, and we’re thrilled to be able to bring it to the screen.”

Cary Granat and Micheal Flaherty, co-founders of Walden Media, added, “Disney has been a great friend and partner, with our company, on ‘Holes,’ ‘Ghosts of the Abyss,’ and this summer’s ‘Around the World in 80 Days.’ The combination of C.S. Lewis’ visionary ‘Chronicles of Narnia’ with the incredible strength and uniqueness of the Walt Disney brand and organization makes this a true dream project for us. This is one of the most imaginative novels ever written, and to bring it to the screen requires a director of equal inventiveness, ingenuity, and spirit. Andrew Adamson is just the guy — he knows better than anyone how to create magic on-screen and tell a story that touches the audience’s hearts. His expertise in visual effects, animation, and live-action will be critical to a fantasy work of this magnitude.”

Adamson added, “‘The Chronicles of Narnia’ were an important part of my childhood just as they are to millions of fans around the world. I hope to bring to the screen a movie that is as real to the audience as Narnia was to me as a child. ‘The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe’ tells an epic story of great heart, of a family torn apart by a war in our world, who are united in their struggle to save the magical land of Narnia. It’s been a long time dream of mine to bring these classic stories to a new generation of moviegoers and readers.”

Douglas Gresham, stepson of C.S. Lewis, said, “Fans of the series have been waiting for generations for a film that faithfully adapts the Narnia books for the screen. Disney and Walden are a perfect match for the magical world that C.S. Lewis created, and we’re as excited to see the movie as everyone else is.”

A classic series of seven novels that have sold over 85 million copies worldwide, C.S. Lewis’ “The Chronicles of Narnia” began with the publication of “The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe” in 1950. Six more novels (including the prequel, “The Magician’s Nephew,” and the sequels, “The Horse and His Boy,” “Prince Caspian,” “The Voyage of the Dawn Treader,” “The Silver Chair” and “The Last Battle”) would follow in the next six years. The final title in the series, “The Last Battle,” was awarded the highest mark of excellence in children’s literature, the prestigious Carnegie Award.

About Walden Media

Founded by Cary Granat, former president of Miramax Films’ Dimension label, and educator Micheal Flaherty, Walden Media creates films, television shows, books and interactive media that inspire, engage, enlighten and entertain. Walden believes that quality entertainment is inherently educational and can capture the audience’s imagination, rekindle curiosity and demonstrate the rewards of learning.

Walden Media is a subsidiary of The Anschutz Company. The Anschutz Company is a privately owned investment and holding company with investments primarily in the areas of entertainment, media, telecommunications, natural resources, transportation, and real estate.

For further information, please contact Dennis Rice, Senior Vice President, Publicity of The Walt Disney Studios, +1-818-560-5610; or Alison Lehrer, Vice President, Public Relations of Walden Media, +1-310-887-1052.