narnia Is Narnia Done?

With Indiana Jones & the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull pulling in $151 million this weekend and Iron Man continuing to do solid business beyond damn-near everyone’s expectations, The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian (now in its second week in theatres, no less) has still not cracked $100 million. And before anyone asks, that does include the Memorial Day numbers!

Just before the summer film-season kicked off, a number of box-office forecasters were projecting Prince Caspian to pull in anywhere between $270 – $320 million. At the rate it’s going now, it’ll be lucky to get anywhere near $200 million.

You can color me suprised… to a point. Although I never saw it breaking $300 million, I expected the second Narnia outting to haul around $250 million.

But Disney’s decision to place it during summer (as opposed to the safer Christmas territory) always struck me as a stupid move that could possibly bite them in the butt.

Maybe the Mouse was arrogant enough to think the same massive number of church-attending movie-goers (who went to see The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe in droves during Christmas 2005) would flock to see any Narnia film at any time of the year. Well… they didn’t.

If you’ll remember, we reported a few months ago about rumblings that Disney was pulling the plug on Narnia altogether following the forthcoming third installment The Voyage of the Dawn Treader – currently scheduled for May 7, 2010 release. We were reassured that the rumors were false, and ran a retraction on said article.

However only weeks later, word from the New York Comic-Con leaked that things were looking grim for Narnia after all with the earlier rumors reiterated (i.e. no more Narnia after Dawn Treader!)

Of course, the way things are looking, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader might be in trouble. Although it’s currently in pre-production with filming expected to commence later this summer, there is a potential Screen Actors Guild strike making matters worse. However if it comes to that, this could end up being a blessing in disguise for Disney.

The further they get into adapting the C.S. Lewis novels, the more expensive these productions will be. And if the Narnia films continue to under-perform (like Prince Caspian currently is), there will simply be no real profit in it for Disney.

Further more, if they even make Dawn Treader at this point (which is still up in the air), it will no doubt be moved from its current May 2010 release to Christmas of that year, where it will face competition from Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows – Part I.

All in all, it’s just not a good time to be a Narnia fan.