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Last Updated: Tuesday, 2 March, 2004, 10:03 GMT
Disney to back Narnia film series
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
BBC TV has adapated the story
The Disney Company has signed a deal to co-finance and distribute a new film of CS Lewis's children's classic The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.

The film is expected to reach cinemas by Christmas 2004 and may lead to a number of movies based on the seven books in Lewis's Narnia Chronicles.

Walt Disney chairman Dick Cook said it had "the potential to be just the start of an extraordinary series".

The seven Narnia books have sold more than 85 million copies worldwide.

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe describes a war in a frozen fantasy land between the forces of darkness, led by the White Witch, and the forces of good, led by the lion Aslan.

Published in 1950, it is the second book in Lewis's Narnia Chronicles. A prequel, The Magician's Nephew, was written later.

Animated hit Shrek was co-directed by 2001
Walden Media reached an agreement with the CS Lewis Company in 2001 to produce a film of Lewis's book.

In 2002 Adam Adamson, co-director of Oscar-winning animated feature Shrek, was signed to direct the 62m film.

Like Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings trilogy, the film will be shot in New Zealand.

Work has already begun at Jackson's Weta workshop in Wellington, which produced many of the special effects for the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

The announcement comes at a critical time for the Disney company, whose agreement with computer animation firm Pixar comes to an end next year.

Disney chief executive Michael Eisner will face stockholders on Wednesday at the company's annual meeting in Philadelphia to answer accusations of poor management and bad strategic thinking.

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