Disney has signed a deal with Walden Media, part of the companies owned by
Colorado billionaire Philip Anschutz, to co-finance and distribute the
movie. It is expected to hit theaters for the Christmas season in 2005.
Financial details were undisclosed, but the deal marks a high-profile
partnership for a series of potential blockbuster films following a recent
decision by Disney and Pixar Animation Studios Inc. to sever ties that led
to five straight box office hits with animated films such as "Finding
Like the three-part "Rings" movies based on J.R.R. Tolkien's fantasy novels
about a war in middle Earth, the "Narnia" books have a long and loyal
The "Rings" movies, distributed by Time Warner Inc. unit New Line Cinema,
have grossed more than $2.8 billion in global ticket sales. On Sunday, the
third film, "Return of the King" won a record-tying 11 Oscars, including
best film -- the U.S. film industry's top award.
The seven "Narnia" books by C.S. Lewis describe a war in the frozen fantasy
land of Narnia pitting the forces of darkness led by the White Witch
against the lion Aslan and four children who stumbled into Narnia through a
Published in 1950, "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" is the second
book -- a prequel was written afterward -- and perhaps best-known in the
series of children's books that has sold over 85 million copies worldwide.
"'The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe' has the potential to be just the
start of an extraordinary series of films," Walt Disney Studios chairman
Dick Cook said in a statement.
The companies said their agreement calls for their partnership to continue
on future "Narnia" films, but details were not disclosed.
Walden had previously signed up director Adam Adamson ("Shrek") for the
Earlier this year, Disney and Pixar decided to go their separate ways after
co-financing, promoting and distributing blockbuster animated movies like
"Nemo," "Toy Story," and "Monsters, Inc."
The pact also comes as Disney Chief Executive Michael Eisner, under fire
from investors who claim he has mismanaged the company, readies himself to
face stockholders this Wednesday at the company's annual meeting in