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A great battle has begun -- not for hearts, minds and souls, but for pocketbooks.
After taking a pass on the film rights to J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings -- a trilogy of films that each went on to earn more than $300 million at the U.S. box office alone -- Walt Disney Pictures is taking a $150 million dollar gamble on another work of fantasy, C.S. Lewis' The Chronicles of Narnia. Disney's film adaptation of the second volume of Narnia tales (there are seven in all), "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" opens nationwide on Friday.
Film industry observers say it's a gamble that's going to pay off. "Without question, this is going to be one of the biggest movies of the holiday season," says Paul Degarabedian, president of Exhibitor Relations, a company that tracks the box office. "It's mentioned in the same breath as 'Harry Potter' and 'King Kong' -- it's that big."