Ben Barnes reprises his role as Prince Caspian in “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.” Filming on the third film in the franchise started earlier this week.
“The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader,” the third in the epic series of films based on the bestselling books by C.S. Lewis, started principal photography this week on location in Queensland, Australia, according to a news release from Business Wire.
The production, a joint venture between 20th Century Fox Film Corp. and Walden Media, continues the franchise that started with the wonderful, 2005 release, “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe,” which won an Oscar for makeup, and its great 2008 follow-up, “Prince Caspian.”
In “Dawn Treader,” Edmund and Lucy Pevensie (Georgie Henley, Skandar Keynes), along with their pesky cousin Eustace Scrubb (Will Poulter, Son of Rambow”), find themselves swallowed into a painting and on to a fantastic Narnian ship headed for the very edges of the world. Joining forces once again with their royal friend Prince Caspian (Ben Barnes) and the warrior mouse Reepicheep (voice of Eddie Izzard), they are whisked away on a mysterious mission to the Lone Islands, and beyond.
On this bewitching voyage that will test their hearts and spirits, the trio will face magical Dufflepuds, sinister slave traders, roaring dragons and enchanted merfolk. Only an entirely uncharted journey to Aslan’s Country – a voyage of destiny and transformation for each of those aboard the Dawn Treader – can save Narnia, and all the astonishing creatures in it, from an unfathomable fate.
Veteran filmmaker Michael Apted (“The World Is Not Enough,” “Gorillas in the Mist,” “Coal Miner’s Daughter”) will direct new Narnia venture. Several of the principals are returning, including Liam Neeson as the voice of Aslan the Lion.
According to the release, supporting cast includes several veterans of the Aussie film world, including Gary Sweet (“Stingers”), Bruce Spence (“Road Warrior”), Arthur Angel (“Ghost Rider”) and Kiwi native Shane Rangi, back for his third go-round in Lewis’ fantastical world (donning the guise of a Minotaur, as he did in the two previous films).
While he won’t direct the third chapter, filmmaker Andrew Adamson will return as one of the film’s three producers, reteaming with his colleagues from the first two “Narnia” films, Mark Johnson and Philip Steuer.
Released in 1952, “The Voyage of the Dawn Treader” is the third of Lewis’ seven-book “Chronicles of Narnia” series. Published between 1950-56 and long regarded as one of literature’s most enduring and imaginative classics, Lewis’ books have sold more than 100 million copies in more than 50 different languages, making it the second biggest book series the world over. In addition to the third novel, the Oxford scholar wrote six additional books, including “Prince Caspian” (1951), “The Silver Chair” (1953), “The Horse and His Boy” (1954), “The Magician’s Nephew” (1955), “The Last Battle” (1956) and the story that launched the series in 1950, “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.”
Production on “The Voyage of the Dawn Treader” will take place entirely in Queensland, Australia, primarily at the Warner Roadshow Studio facility in Gold Coast, which houses the Southern Hemisphere’s largest water tank facility, crucial to the production’s needs. Filming will conclude in November 2009, with a year-long post-production schedule leading to the film’s global release in December 2010.
I’m happy that shooting is underway for “Dawn Treader,” since the future of the franchise was at one point a big question mark. Though the combined global box-office gross for the first two Narnia films exceeded $1.2 billion, Disney declined to partner with Walden Media on the third film after “Prince Caspian” didn’t meet box-office expectations. Of course, Disney helped create that situation by moving the sequel from December (the time frame that worked so well for the first film) to May, which sandwiched the sequel between the blockbusters “Iron Man” and “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.”
I’m a big fan of the Narnia films and hope “Dawn Treader” will be an entertaining cinematic gift for the 2010 holidays.