Walt Disney Productions has committed itself to The Chronicles of Narnia series, announcing that it will make all seven of the beloved books into featured films.
Springboarding off the success of the debut film The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, the company will attempt to release one movie a year starting in May '08 with the next installment being Prince Caspian.
The news is especially encouraging to the Christian community as the books are largely Christian allegories created from the imagination of the Christian author C.S. Lewis. It is also one of the rare faith-based series in Hollywood that will receive blockbuster sums of money.
"There's new hero creatures, specifically Badger and his mouse Reepicheep," described Dean Wright, the visual effects supervisor for Chronicles, about the upcoming Prince Caspian flick to Sci Fi Wire. "Again, there's huge battle sequences. I know from talking to Andrew (Narnia director Andrew Adamson) just briefly before he left: He wants to make this bigger and better than The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. So I can only imagine what's in store for any of us that happen to be lucky enough to be involved."
The first Chronicles of Narnia film garnered huge success during its time at the box office. It drew in about $300 million in the United States and an approximate $700 million worldwide. It also gained several Academy Award nods and took home one of the coveted Oscars.
The announcement to continue on the series thus comes as no surprise. The ongoing trend for huge sequels such as Harry Potter, Pirates of the Caribbean, and The Lord of the Rings has also added onto the reason to make the decision.
Christians and pro-family advocates are especially thankful for the Lewis novels, however, since it provides a completely family friendly atmosphere and gives Christian parents chances to relate the gospel to their kids.
"We're utterly compelled to help fuel and drive Hollywood's new interest in faith-based movies," explained Tom Allen of advocacy group Catholic Outreach to the Associated Press. "It's what countless concerned citizens have longed for and prayed for. Now it's here, prayer's answered and we intend to make the most of it."
The next Narnia film, which is actually the fourth book in the series, will have a number of familiar faces from the first flick including all four of the Pevensie children as well as director Andrew Adamson. This will be the last work that Adamson will do on the chronicle, however, although producers plan to keep the same tone throughout all seven movies.
Disney representatives promoted the upcoming film at the recent Comic-Con conference held last week and weekend. At the event, they revealed Ben Barnes as the lead character, Prince Caspian, and showed footage created alongside WETA – the visual effects geniuses who worked on other blockbusters such as The Lord of the Rings.