“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, began principal photography on location in Queensland, Australia, on Monday, July 27. The production, a joint venture between Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation and Walden Media, continues the franchise which commenced with the 2005 release, “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe” and its 2008 follow-up, “Prince Caspian,” whose combined global box office gross tops $1.2 billion.
This time around – Edmund and Lucy Pevensie, along with their pesky cousin Eustace Scrubb – 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 and the warrior mouse Reepicheep, 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) is at the helm of the new Narnia venture. Returning as the Pevensie children are Georgie Henley as Lucy and Skandar Keynes as Edmund. Ben Barnes (Easy Virtue, Dorian Gray) reprises the role of Caspian. Cousin Eustace will be played by UK native Will Poulter (Son of Rambow).
The 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). And, lending his vocal talents again to the project is Academy Award® nominee Liam Neeson (Kinsey, Schindler’s List) as the all-powerful ruler of Narnia, Aslan the Lion.
While relinquishing the director’s chair this time out, filmmaker Andrew Adamson (the Oscar®-winning Shrek, Shrek 2) will return as one of the film’s three producers, reteaming with his colleagues from the first two “Narnia” films – Academy Award®-winner Mark Johnson (Rain Man, Bugsy, The Notebook) and Philip Steuer (The Rookie, The Alamo).
Also back for another Narnian adventure are Executive Producers Perry Moore and Lewis’ stepson, Douglas Gresham. The screenplay was written by Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely (“The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe” and “Prince Caspian”) and Richard LaGravenese (The Fisher King) and Michael Petroni (The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys).
Inspired by Lewis’ imaginative creations, the story’s human cast will once again be complemented by a gallery of original creatures portrayed onscreen in the combined efforts of live-action and CGI animation under the supervision of visual effects supervisor Angus Bickerton (The Da Vinci Code, Angels & Demons). Oscar® winners Howard Berger and Tami Lane, back for their third “Narnia” project, will reprise their efforts on the film’s prosthetic makeup effects for many of the unique characters in the story.
Apted’s technical crew also includes two industry veterans with whom he has shared an ongoing collaboration – Oscar®-nominated director of photography Dante Spinotti (L.A. Confidential, The Insider) and film editor Rick Shaine (The Incredible Hulk, HBO’s “Rome”). The production has also secured the talents of veteran production designer Barry Robison (“Wolverine”) and award-winning costume designer Isis Mussenden (Shrek, Shrek 2), who created the wardrobe for the previous two Narnia movies.
“The Voyage of the Dawn Treader” is the third (appearing in 1952) 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 over 100,000,000 copies in over 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.