Thank you Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings!

Sure the real reason is to get confidence cooking in the company, but I am just glad they are seemingly going to produce this. I really enjoyed the Chronicles of Narnia books as a kid and would welcome a live action version. I’ve recall seeing an animated version a long time ago and have heard a cool spoof on the radio during a winter episode of the Prairie Home Companion.

The Burbank, Calif., entertainment company’s Walt Disney Studios unit took out color ads scheduled to appear in The Wall Street Journal, the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times, among others, announcing a deal to co-finance and distribute a live-action film based on C.S. Lewis’s children’s fantasy classics, “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.” Such announcement ads typically are limited to Hollywood trade newspapers like Daily Variety.

The effort to show Disney’s commitment to a big new fantasy franchise comes as Disney Chairman and Chief Executive Michael Eisner faces one of the biggest tests of his career. After a fierce three-month campaign led by former board members Roy E. Disney and Stanley Gold, at least 30% of shareholders are expected to withhold support for Mr. Eisner at Wednesday’s annual meeting.

Monday, state pension funds in Ohio and Florida joined others in California and elsewhere in announcing they would withhold support from the longtime Disney boss, while the pension fund of New York City said it would support him.

The showdown comes after Mr. Eisner and the Disney board last month rejected an unsolicited takeover offer from cable company Comcast Corp. In a bid to appease shareholders, Disney board members have been talking to Mr. Eisner about the possibility of curbing his powers by removing his chairman title, according to people familiar with the matter.

Detailing its latest project, the studio said it hopes to make several movies from the novels written by Mr. Lewis, who was an English professor and Christian writer — in much the same vein as “The Lord of the Rings” and the “Harry Potter” series. The announcement came a day after “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” swept the Academy Awards, winning 11, and followed the huge box-office success of Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ.” It also came after talks broke down to extend a lucrative and long-running distribution deal for Pixar Animation Studios’ computer-animated films.

Disney’s partner on “The Chronicles of Narnia,” Walden Media, bought the film rights to the seven-book epic in late 2001. The production company announced a year later that Andrew Adamson, director of the computer-animated hit “Shrek,” would direct the first film. []

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