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Disney Bails on Dawn Treader

Disney will not co-finance the third CHRONICLES OF NARNIA film with Walden Media, according to THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER.

Without elaborating, the two entities confirmed Tuesday that for "budgetary and logistical reasons," Disney will not co-produce and co-finance THE VOYAGE OF THE DAWN TREADER. The third book in the series by C.S. Lewis follows the younger two Pevensie siblings, Lucy and Edmund and their tiresome cousin, Eustace Scrubb, as they voyage to the end of the world with now-King Caspian.

The film was in preproduction and was set for a spring shoot, with a May 2010 release. All stars from the second installment, PRINCE CASPAIN, Ben Barnes, Georgie Henley, William Moseley and Anna Popplewell, were set to return. However, the film was noticeably missing from Disney's media showcase day in September, where they introduced their slate for the next three years.

Walden will need a new studio partner; the most likely candidate is Fox, which markets and distributes Walden's films under the Fox Walden banner. The investment will have to be sizeable. Filmed in the Czech Republic, Mexico and New Zealand, PRINCE CASPIAN cost $200 million and was somewhat of a box office disappointment, earning $141 million in North America and $278 million overseas, but off of the first film's numbers. THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE, costing $180 million, made $292 million domestically and $453 million internationally in 2005. Studios don't often pull out of a planned trilogy with one film left, but given the downward trend in box office receipts combined with the waning popularity of expensive children's fantasy adaptations, it makes numbers sense.

Another planned trilogy, THE GOLDEN COMPASS, was pulled after only one film by Warner Bros. and New Line after the adaptation of the Philip Pullman novel made just $70 million in North America, despite good business overseas ($300 million).