The Christian Post talked to Michael Flaherty, co-founder and president of Walden Media, and he tipped his hand that The Magician’s Nephew will be the fourth Narnia film (even though it’s the sixth book in the series), if there is to be a fourth Narnia film at all. Flaherty makes no guarantees, as he has to talk to both 20th Century Fox and the C.S. Lewis Estate before going forward – and that’s all before the script has been written. This could be a talk, but let’s look at the numbers…
The first two films were handled by Disney, and there was a sharp decline in the second picture. The third was handled by Fox. The numbers look like this for the Chronicles of Narnia franchise:
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe - $292 Million Domestic, $745 Million Worldwide
Prince Caspian – $142 Million Domestic, $420 Million Worldwide
The Voyage of the Dawn Treader - $104 Million Domestic, $404 Worldwide.
It’s also worth noting that the third picture was in 3-D, but that has a greater effect on numbers stateside than internationally. The first film was an international phenomenon, but it was also coming off of the heat of the Lord of the Rings films, and the Lewis books are family classics. The problem is that there are people who’ve read the series all the way through, and those who stopped with the first. The first film was also “eh.”
For the second film the release date was changed from fall to summer (which hurt Harry Potter with its third film), but the lack of enthusiasm gross-wise had nothing to do with the release date. The film was also budgeted at $225 Million, which means it didn’t turn a profit theatrically. Walden Media has been behind these films, and so when Disney scuttled, they made the third film on a budget ($155 Million), and moved to Fox. But if the “twice the production cost” measure of success holds for these films, then through international the third film was rather successful and there are likely stronger ancillary sales on these sorts of titles.
The good and bad about the sixth Narnia book is that it’s a prequel, with a new set of children, and new adventures in the old land. This is good for them as they have a new cast, and it can reintroduce audiences that turned away from the last couple. But also at this point by jumping to the sixth book it’s inarguable the franchise is hobbled and was no Harry Potter. What they can say is that the flatline on the worldwide numbers between the second and third film suggests there is a core audience. And what the fourth film would prove/show is what the Narnia brand is worth.
Should they stick a fork in Narnia, or what?