With all the hullabaloo amongst movie fans about Tron Legacy hitting theaters mid-December of this year, it is easy to forget that another 3D, effects-heavy adventure for the whole family will be released just a week before that potential box office behemoth.

I am of course referring to The Voyage of the Dawn Treader – the next entry in the allegorical fantasy epic, The Chronicles of Narnia, based on the books by author C.S. Lewis.  A new trailer for the film was included on this week’s DVD release of Diary of a Wimpy Kid and has made its way online (via Narnia Fans).

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader includes several characters from previous Narnia pics, including siblings Lucy (Georgie Henley) and Edmund (Skandar Keynes) Pevensie; the fellow formerly known as Prince Caspian (Ben Barnes); and the voice of Liam Neeson as the mystical lion, Aslan.

New players in the Narnia franchise include Will Poulter as Eustace Scrubb – an irritating relative of the Pevensies – and Simon Pegg, who will replace comedian Eddie Izzard as the voice of the warrior mouse Reepicheep.

The film will see the characters taken on – and I quote – “[a] bewitching voyage that will test their hearts and spirits, [where they] will face magical Dufflepuds, sinister slave traders, roaring dragons and enchanted merfolk.” For the record, a Dufflepud is a dwarf-like servant of the magician Coriakin, so you can get your mind out of the gutter now. 😉

Check out the new trailer for Voyage of the Dawn Treader below:

Neither this nor the first Dawn Treader trailer really boasts much in the way of cutting-edge visuals or impressive fantastical character design.  The CG effects and animation do not really seem to have improved much since The Lion, The Witch, & The Wardrobe came out back in 2005.  Dawn Treader may be a cheaper undertaking than the previous Narnia pic, Prince Caspian, but really, it DOES still have a production budget of $140 million.

Are audiences still interested in this franchise?  Unlike other fantasy novel-turned-movie series like Harry Potter and Twilight, the Narnia books are not currently in vogue and were never that immensely popular to begin with.  The stories have a devoted cult following, but that is not enough to ensure a profitable turnout at the box office.

Will Dawn Treader at least be as popular as Prince Caspian?  I honestly have my doubts – though the fact that it will be in 3D should only help profits.

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader will arrive in regular and 3D theaters in the U.S. on December 10th, 2010.