2010 Preview: The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
Release Date: Dec. 10

Studio: Fox

Genre: Fantasy

Director: Michael Apted

Writer: Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely and Richard LaGravenese and Michael Petroni (based on the novel by C.S. Lewis)

Cast: Ben Barnes, Skandar Keynes, Georgie Henley, Will Poulter, Eddie Izzard (voice), Liam Neeson (voice)

Studio Description: This time around—Edmund and Lucy Pevensie (Keynes and Henley), along with their pesky cousin Eustace Scrubb (Poulter)—find themselves swallowed into a painting and on to a fantastic Narnian ship headed for the very edges of the world. Joining forces once again with their royal friend Prince Caspian (Barnes) and the warrior mouse Reepicheep (voiced by Izzard), they are whisked away on a mysterious mission to the Lone Islands, and beyond. On this bewitching voyage that will test their hearts and spirits, the trio will face magical Dufflepuds, sinister slave traders, roaring dragons and enchanted merfolk. Only an entirely uncharted journey to Aslan's Country—a voyage of destiny and transformation for each of those aboard the Dawn Treader—can save Narnia, and all the astonishing creatures in it, from an unfathomable fate.

Analysis: After the disappointment of The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader aims to right the franchise's course. Its first step was to set sail at the same time of year as the successful first movie, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.

With Harry Potter and The Lord of the Rings paving the way for fantasy events, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe struck theaters on Dec. 9, 2005, and raked in $65.6 million its first weekend and went on to gross a Harry Potter-sized $291.7 million by the end of its run. Two and a half years later, the franchise took a hit with Prince Caspian, which opened to $55 million and closed with $141.6 million.

While Prince Caspian received a lot of flack, Narnia was never destined to be the next Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter, despite its auspicious beginning. The first movie was based on the only widely-known book in the Narnia series and it was a complete journey, whereas all of the Potters and Rings were famous and had the benefit of story continuity. The wait was longer between the Narnia movies than for Potter and Rings, and Prince Caspian came off as just another fantasy adventure, nearly indistinguishable from the plethora of similar fantasies made in the wake of Potter and Rings.

Despite its December release, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader faces the same challenges as Prince Caspian, including another two and a half years of downtime. Previously scheduled for May 7, Voyage was dropped by Walt Disney Pictures after Caspian's fall from grace. Later, 20th Century Fox picked Voyage up and scheduled it for Dec. 10.

Since the first Narnia, two major fantasy pictures have debuted in early-to-mid December: Eragon in 2006 and The Golden Compass in 2007, grossing a middling $75 million and $70.1 million, respectively. Based on its description, Voyage of the Dawn Treader sounds like it will be just another fantasy movie, which doesn't augur well for the franchise's blockbuster aspirations, but the book on which it's based is reportedly dearer to Narnia's disciples than Prince Caspian was. One should expect the ship to sink further than Prince Caspian, and it would take an extraordinary final product and marketing effort for Voyage to tread water.

Related Stories:

'Narnia' Retreats with 'Caspian' Sequel

'Pursuit' Overtakes 'Eragon'

'Golden Compass' Doesn't Get the Lead Out

'Narnian' Delight: Passion of the 'Lion' Pays Off

'King' of the World: $250M in Five Days for 'Rings' Finale

Similar Movies: The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, Harry Potter series, The Golden Compass, Eragon

Related Charts: Christian, Family—Children's Book Adaptation, Fantasy—Live Action, Series: The Chronicles of Narnia, Brand: Walden Media, Showdown: 'Narnia' Vs. 'Narnia', Showdown: Christians in Conflict

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