Sour Grapes for Disney?

Filed under:Movies — posted by Anwyn on January 26, 2009 @ 7:38 am

According to Patrick Goldstein at the L.A. Times, the reason Disney pulled out of the making of The Voyage of the Dawn Treader was bad blood between them and Phil Anschutz of Walden Media:

According to multiple sources, the once-close relationship between Disney and Walden began to unravel when, after the first “Narnia” film cleaned up at the box office, Anschutz essentially put a gun to Disney’s head and demanded that the studio renegotiate its deal with Walden. Anschutz insisted that Disney either gave back a sizable chunk of the studio’s lucrative distribution fee or Anschutz would distribute the “Narnia” series on his own.

This is the part where I get Blogger’s Swelled Head and assume I could do a better job than this if I could get a call through to any of these people. Did Disney and Walden have a contract? If so, how could Anschutz unilaterally decide to “distribute [Narnia] on his own” without getting sued? And if not, how could it have taken “a gun to Disney’s head” to get them to negotiate non-contracted terms for the next film? “Oh, the film did well–what do you mean you want more favorable terms next time?” Does it sound like somebody at Disney needs to grow up?

Regardless, I hope if Walden’s at fault they’ve learned their lesson for making nice with the next prospective buyers. Because Voyage of the Dawn Treader will, as the Times’s Mary McNamara points out, make a good movie right out of the box, although Goldstein’s numbers worry me a bit–if Caspian cost $225M and Dawn Treader is just as rife with special-effects moments (Eustace and the dragon, the Monopods, the three sleepers, the sea serpent, Aslan’s Country), it’s difficult for this filmmaking ignoramus to see how feasible it is to bring the new one in at $140M. There will also be a new director (Michael Apted), and no screenwriters are attached per IMDb. I hope they keep the overall look, but the script would benefit from some punch. Edmund, in particular, could do with some lines after his morose turn in Caspian.

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image: detail of installation by Bronwyn Lace