Disney Leaves Narnia

Walt Disney Pictures

Walt Disney Pictures

After several weeks of back-and-forth speculation about the future of the Narnia franchise, Walt Disney Pictures has announced that they will not be involved with “The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.”

While declining to elaborate, Disney and Walden Media confirmed Tuesday that for budgetary and logistical reasons the Burbank-based studio is not exercising its option to co-produce and co-finance the next “Narnia” movie with Walden.

The third entry in the series, based on the classic books by C.S. Lewis, was in preproduction and set for a spring shoot for a planned May 2010 release. The development puts the participation of the talent attached in doubt. Michael Apted was on board to direct a script by Steven Knight. The key players of the second installment, “Prince Caspian” — Ben Barnes, Georgie Henley, William Moseley and Anna Popplewell — were to return for the third film.

Walden has a strong relationship with the Lewis estate and will shop “Treader” in hopes of finding a new partner. The most likely candidate at this stage is Fox, which markets and distributes Walden fare under the Fox Walden banner.

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This does not mean the movie will not get made. It just means that Disney will not be involved. Walden Media will now have to find a new partner, with Fox being the most likely choice. One of the big questions now is how this will affect the production. VDT has already been delayed multiple times, and the actors are not getting any younger.

Don’t despair, Narnians. Let’s wait and see what happens.