Now it seems Narnia needs a bailout.
After the huge success of The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, which made $745 million worldwide, it only made sense Disney would jump on the Narnia bandwagon to produce more adaptations of C.S. Lewis’ classic children’s series.
But when the second Narnia installment, Prince Caspian, opened this summer, it failed to inspire the same numbers, grossing only $419 million worldwide, and Disney realized they may have bit off more than they could chew. Happens all the time.
Now, due what they are calling “budgetary and logistical reasons,” the Mouse House is pulling out of the third Narnia installment, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
This new 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 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, according to the Reporter.
Poor Disney. They probably felt they had found the next Lord of the Rings/Harry Potter. But no other fantasy adventure films have shown that kind of box office punch. Even Warners and New Line hoped they were launching a franchise with The Golden Compass series, but that was squashed when it also tanked at the box office.
Oh, well, at least we’ve got a few more Harry Potters to look forward to.
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After making three quarters of a billion dollars the first time around it was inevitable more editions of C.S. Lewis’ seven book Narnia series would find their way to the screen. So here is Prince Caspian which jumps ahead 1300 years ( in Narnian time) to reveal a very different world than the one portrayed in The Lion The Witch and The Wardrobe. As the press notes correctly say “The lion hasn’t been heard from for 1 000 years The white witch is dead and the wardrobe is gone.” Now--as the kings and queens of Narnia (aka the Pevensies) are transported to the land from a World War II England train station--they discover the magical land just isn’t what it used to be. It has been taken over by an evil and aggressive band of humans called the Telmarines led by the unforgiving Lord Miraz (Sergio Castellitto). All the talking animals and mythical creatures are now just wallpaper. Just a year (in human time) after their first trip the four Pevensie siblings find themselves summoned back to help the dashing heir to the Narnian throne Prince Caspian (Ben Barnes) defeat his uncle. With the assistance of a few characters like the dwarf Trumkin (Peter Dinklage) and Black Dwarf Nikabrik (Warwick Davis)--plus the swashbuckling chatterbox talking mouse Reepicheep (voiced by Eddie Izzard)--they set about bringing Narnia back to all its former glory.
Returning just a bit older and wiser the four young actors who play the Pevensie brothers and sisters are in fine form with each getting a chance to display their own quirky talents. Georgie Henley returns as Lucy the only one able to channel the legendary lion Aslan and Anna Popplewell is back as the proper older sister Susan. As for the boys William Moseley is on board again as Peter who summons up the courage to lead the fight against the Telmarines while Skandar Keynes’ Edmund--despite his betrayal in the first film--finds enough backbone this time to redeem himself. The new human characters are led by British stage actor Ben Barnes who is commanding as Caspian the man who would be King but must stave off Spanish film star Sergio Castellitto’s vicious Lord Miraz. The wonderful Peter Dinklage (The Station Agent) is an amusing Trumkin while Eddie Izzard offers the perfect voice for Reepicheep. And even though it appeared we wouldn’t be hearing from them again Tilda Swinton’s presumed dead White Witch and Liam Neeson’s eloquent voicing of the Lion Aslan make cameo appearances as well. The large supporting cast is too numerous to name everyone but a special shout-out is also in order for Willow’s Warwick Davis as Nikabrik. Shrek director Andrew Adamson proved in the first Chronicles of Narnia--with all its minotaurs centaurs and other assortment of creatures--that an animation background comes in handy. With Prince Caspian he confirms that promise displaying nifty live-action skills particularly in the battle scenes. The full force of his abilities are put to test in the ultimate confrontation with the Telmarines and what he gets on screen can be favorably compared to something straight out of Braveheart. The stakes in the story this time have been ramped up and so has the fighting. It’s probably safe to say that after 140 minutes of this stuff you will come out with serious battle fatigue but it’s all thrilling to watch with some breathtaking special effects that for lack of a better description are awesome. With all the hardware effects and CGI on view it would be easy for the characters to get lost in the mix but Adamson clearly knows where the heart of his story lies. If this sequel proves anything it’s that the magic fun unforgettable people and creatures are the reasons we will keep coming back to Narnia.
Director Andrew Adamson has secured the four young stars of The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe to start filming sequel Prince Caspian later this year.
William Moseley, 18; Anna Popplewell, 17; Skandar Keynes, 14; and Georgie Henley, 10, will return to New Zealand to shoot the next film installment of the C.S. Lewis series.
The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe has taken $637.8 million worldwide since opening in November and picked up three Oscar nominations earlier this week.
Adamson enthuses, "Prince Caspian not only gives me an opportunity to challenge my imagination with another classic story, it also allows me to work alongside the many talented artists who contributed to the first film, and of course to collaborate again with The Pevensies, Georgie, Skandar, Anna, and William."
Prince Caspian is set for release at the end of 2007.
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Who wouldn’t want to discover a magical world inside their own closet? Lewis tapped into this childlike wonderment when he wrote The Lion the Witch and
the Wardrobe in 1950 his first of seven adventures into Narnia and the movie picks it right up. Its starts with the four Pevensie siblings—Peter (William Moseley) Susan (Anna Popplewell) Edmund (Skandar Keynes) and little Lucy (Georgie Henley)—who are sent from war-torn London to stay in a country home during WWII. Once there the children stumble upon the enchanted wardrobe that leads them to Narnia a fairytale realm of mythical proportions. But Narnia has fallen under the icy curse of the evil White Witch (Tilda Swinton)—and only the two sons of Adam and two daughters of Eve can break the spell. Now with Narnia's rightful leader—the wise and mystical lion Aslan (voiced by Liam Neeson)—by their side the four children find strength to defeat the witch and lead Narnia into a brand new era. [Cue the sound of trumpets].
After searching long and hard the casting directors for Narnia found the perfect unknowns to play the four Pevensie children especially Lucy and Edmund the two characters who go through the most changes in the story. The sweet-faced Henley has just the right amount of innocence and bravado as Lucy the first to discover Narnia who then has to convince her brothers and sister its real. In turn as the mean-spirited jealous Edmund—who just wants a little respect—Keynes scowls and pouts like a pro. The rest of the Narnia children may be a little stiff but will gain seasoning the more Narnia sequels they do much like the Harry Potter trio we’ve grown accustomed to. Of the adults the always unusual Swinton (Constantine) is one scary broad adequately chewing it up as the malevolent sorceress as well as striking a very formidable pose dressed in highly elaborate costumes. And Liam Neeson adds a nice calming touch as the voice of the wise Aslan. It’s taken awhile to bring a live-action Narnia to its adoring fans—and New Zealand director and co-writer Andrew Adamson (Shrek and Shrek 2) has only his fellow countryman Peter Jackson to thank for finally making it happen. Just as C.S. Lewis was influenced by his friend J.R.R. Tolkein Adamson is obviously guided by the Lord of the Rings filmmaker. From the great Aslan to the thousands of mythical creatures Adamson uses the technological advances set up by the Rings trilogy and creates a real magical Narnia many of us have only imagined in our heads. It seems the glorious New Zealand can pass as Narnia and Middle-Earth. But in paying homage to all the greatness Jackson achieved with Lord of the Rings The Chronicles of Narnia inevitably pales in comparison. You just can’t watch the final drawn out battle between Aslan’s army and the Witch’s and not measure it up to Rings far more stellar conflicts.
In this Britney-and-Beyonce-obsessed age 'tis a wonder anyone other than an art history buff knows who Rembrandt is let alone that other Dutch painter guy--what'shisname Vermeer. In fact very little is known about the 17th-century painter who died in debt at 43 and left most of his works including his most famous of a young girl wearing a pearl earring shrouded in mystery. Girl With a Pearl Earring is director Peter Webber's adaptation of the 1999 Tracy Chevalier novel that spun a gauzy fiction about the painter's unrequited obsession with a young maid who became his muse and the subject of said painting. The maid in question is Griet (Scarlett Johansson) whose tilemaker father's accident forces their family into poverty and her into servitude--and it's no picnic. Morose henpecked Vermeer (Colin Firth) hides in his studio away from the household which includes the puffy and pampered wife (Essie Davis) he keeps eternally pregnant; her tyrannical domineering mother (Judy Parfitt) who brazenly solicits work for Vermeer from patrons like rich lecher Van Ruijven (Tom Wilkinson); and a multitude of Vermeer brats. Full-lipped and nubile the servant Griet becomes the artist's secret obsession--he spies on her cleaning his studio teaches her about painting (or at least how to make his paints) and seduces her while painting her portrait behind his wife's back.
With little dialogue to speak Johansson's Griet is a study in silence. Her wide-eyed earnest stares and Mona Lisa smile do the talking for her proving a picture certainly can say a thousand words. She may get more attention for Lost in Translation but this is her vehicle. Johansson's quiet understated performance makes the others look that much more overstated--Wilkinson's vulgar mustache twirling art patron for example and Davis's jealous and ranting Catharina Vermeer for another although they too are very solid turns. Firth's Vermeer fades into the background surrounded by these big personalities understandably and fittingly so; he's the brooding artist who'd be far happier left alone to gaze upon his subject. Although the master and the servant never do much more than exchange looks the sensual energy between them is palpable.
This movie is beautiful absolutely stunning--it's as if cinematographer Eduardo Serra saw Vermeer's life through the artist's eyes and that vision comes through in exquisitely framed and lit shots. Some scenes--of young lovers walking along a tree-lined canal in fall light beaming across the girl's face as she cleans the studio's beveled windows--are literally breathtaking. Just as an artist's work is tactile so does this film feel--in the sounds of a heavy knife chopping vegetables and a spatula grinding pigment into paste…volumes are spoken in the clean white crispness of Griet's bonnet. First-time helmer Webber occasionally allows the camera to hang too long (a lip-licking scene in extreme close-up for example) but he creates a fully enveloping period and confidently leads his cast through this fairly thin story. You can pretty much guess what you're in for with a movie about a 17th-century Dutch master; knowing that if there's any criticism to be made it's that the pic feels every bit of its 95 minutes long. A lovely score by Alexandre Desplat also deserves a mention although it sometimes overwhelms scenes with unwarranted portentousness.