The third installment of Disney and Walden Media’s “Chronicles of Narnia” franchise is sailing from New Zealand to Mexico.
Production of the first two pics — “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” and “Prince Caspian” — was largely based in New Zealand because of government tax incentives. Weta Digital and Weta Workshop, which created most of the films’ effects and props, also are based in that country.
But producers of the new pic, “Voyage of the Dawn Treader,” to be directed by Michael Apted, needed several large soundstages plus a massive water tank. Title of the film refers to the ship that serves as a major set piece.
Because of that, production will move to Rosarito, Mexico, and set up shop at Baja Studios, where “Titanic,” “Deep Blue Sea” and “Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World” were shot.
Basing the pic mainly in one location also will cut costs, sources close to the production said.
Location shots in Australia will still be filmed as planned.
Production originally was slated to start in October, but will now likely begin in January.
“The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” shot mostly in New Zealand, while “Prince Caspian” also lensed in Poland, Slovenia and the Czech Republic. Soundstages were used in Prague.
Lack of studio space has long plagued New Zealand’s film council, and officials have attempted to raise public and private funds to build more.
Country will take a financial hit because of “Narnia’s” move. First pic ponied up $134 million, while “Prince Caspian” shelled out $52 million there, government officials have said.
Despite disappointment with the B.O. performance of “Prince Caspian,” Disney and Walden are not attributing the move to Mexico to that film’s haul.
Pic has earned $138 million domestically and another $178 million overseas so far, giving it a cume of $316 million. “The Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe” earned $745 million worldwide.