Fox steps in for Disney to partner on Narnia: Dawn Treader

One month after Disney decided to pull the plug on co-financing the third movie in Walden Media's Chronicles of Narnia series, Walden has found a new partner in 20th Century Fox, Variety reported.

Fox, which was entitled to first crack at The Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader after Disney dropped out because of the shared Fox Walden marketing and distribution label, has made a commitment to develop the project. The two sides 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.

Dawn Treader is projected to go into production at a $140 million budget. That's considerably less than the $215 million or so spent on last year's Prince Caspian, which was considered something of a box-office disappointment compared with the first Narnia movie, 2005's The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe ($419 million vs. $745 million worldwide).

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 but mostly absent from Prince Caspian.

Ultimately, Fox's commitment to the summer start date is contingent upon Walden's selection of a writer. Richard LaGravanese penned the most recent draft that both Walden and Fox were happy with, but there's a question about his availability because he has been adapting Sara Gruen's best-seller Water for Elephants for Fox 2000.

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