Major feature film planned for CS Lewis' children's classic.

FOLLOWING the huge cinema success of The Lord Of The Rings, another fantasy series with spiritual overtones is making its way to the big screen next year. Walden Media is partnering with the Walt Disney Studios to create The Chronicles Of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe, based on the children's books by CS Lewis. The film is expected in cinemas around Christmas 2005.

Walden is owned by Colorado billionaire Philip Anschutz, who also owns the Regal Cinemas chain and is known for his Christian beliefs and productions with family values (Holes, Children On Their Birthdays). Walden Media and Disney will co-finance the project, with Disney distributing it. The live action feature - expected to be followed by versions of other books in the seven part series - will be directed by Andrew Adamson (Shrek, Shrek 2). Said Dick Cook, chairman of the Walt Disney Studios, "With an exciting and meaningful plot and well drawn, emotional characters, The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe has the potential to be just the start of an extraordinary series of films the exceptional imagination present in the novels follows in the best Disney tradition."

According to press reports in Australia and New Zealand, Oscar-winning actress Nicole Kidman is under consideration for the role of the White Witch. CR

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