Walden Media, the production studio behind The Chronicles of Narnia, isn’t letting the dismal economy slow down its growing presence in both the movie and publishing industries. Next month Walden starts filming Beezus and Ramona, with Joey King playing Ramona and Disney star Selena Gomez as Beezus, the pest’s older sister. It’s also developing the third installment of The Chronicles of Narnia and the movie version of Ingrid Law’s 2009 Newbery Honor book Savvy.
And in early 2010, Walden and HarperCollins will co-publish the first three titles for a new HC imprint called Walden Pond Press. “It’s a great story in the wake of all the bad news in publishing,” says Francis X. (Chip) Flaherty Jr., publisher of Walden Pond Press and executive v-p of Walden Media. “It’s really no different than what we do on the movie side, where we look to Fox or Disney to distribute our films, to get them into 3,000 theaters. We don’t have a printing press, we don’t know the folks at Barnes & Noble.”
This week Walden signed Mary McAveney, previously v-p of marketing for Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing, as “publishing amplification advisor.” Her job: to build buzz for Walden’s books and films. She will work closely with the marketing and publicity teams for Walden’s films and all of its book titles. The aim, Flaherty says, is not to have “a good book