The Washington Times - May 21, 2008, 02:39PM

Just to note that Box Office Mojo says 55 million (instead of the hoped-for 85 million) viewers showed up to see “Prince Caspian” over the weekend. That is not chump change but there has been some question as to whether Disney will continue to invest in the 7-part Narnia series after “The Voyage of the Dawn Treader” opens in 2010. \ \ \ One thing that might explain the lower numbers is the behavior of Disney itself. Back in January, I was researching “Caspian” for a magazine article I was freelancing. I noticed USA Today had been given a sneak peak at aspects of the film, such as getting a packet of photos to run with the article. Since the moratorium, as it were, appeared to be broken, I tried doing the same: asking Disney for similiar photos that could run on our pop culture page, plus interviews with folks such as Douglas Gresham, stepson to the late C.S. Lewis, creator of Narnia. Usually our entertainment writers handle films but when there’s religious content, the religion writer can — and often does — step in.\ \ \ To my chagrin and disgust, Disney refused to let me have any photos until some magic moment in early May, right when *they* wanted articles to run before the May 16 release date. Nor would they let me interview anyone connected with the film. I even contacted Mr. Gresham overseas only to find out he — regretfully — had pledged to Disney (probably signed some agreement, I am guessing) that he would only talk to whom and whenever Disney approved. \ \ \ I informed Disney’s reps that we really needed articles for our pop culture page then — early February, not three months later — and that I’d appreciate it if they’d make folks available. After all, they had released material to USA Today, no? Well, no dice. Disney wanted me to be part of their pre-film promo effort but early February was not to their liking. They were not going to release anything, nor let me talk with anyone. Soooo, I told them that I would decide when articles run, not them. And that if they were going to be so greedy, I wouldn’t write “Caspian” up at all. And I didn’t. \ \ \ So, for those of you wondering why the box office numbers were a bit low last weekend, maybe it’s because other media got the same treatment and decided they were not going to be puppets dancing to Disney’s tune. And so the coverage was not what it could have been. \ \ \ Julia Duin, assistant national editor/religion, The Washington Times\