A royal release date mistake

Iger says bad timing keyed the underperformance of 'Prince Caspian'

Disney CEO Robert Iger said Wednesday that "The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian" isn't performing as well as expected because its May 16 release date was too competitive.

It's an interesting thesis considering Disney purposely moved the film to that date and in doing so turned the seemingly natural Christmas franchise — the first installment featured a cameo from Santa Claus — into a springtime experience.

Disney originally had "Prince Caspian" set for the 2007 Christmas season but made the change in deference to "The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep," a fantasy vying for the same audience.

Disney might also have taken into account the feelings of Walden Media, its production partner on "Narnia" and the production company behind "Water Horse," which was distributed by Sony. That film earned $102.6 million worldwide at the boxoffice.

"The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" scored $744.8 million worldwide as a Christmas release in 2006.

Iger, speaking at a conference in New York, said "Prince Caspian" is a better movie than the first installment but because it was released between a couple of the year's biggest hits, audiences are overlooking it.

"Prince Caspian" bowed less than two weeks after "Iron Man" and six days before "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull." It has grossed $151 million worldwide so far.

The next movie in the series is set for release May 7, 2010. (partialdiff)
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