Michael Apted will direct Walt Disney Pictures/Walden Media's The Chronicles Of Narnia: The Voyage Of The Dawn Treader.

The third instalment in the children's fantasy franchise is scheduled to begin filming in January 2008 in time for release on May 1, 2009.

The second episode, The Chronicles Of Narnia: Prince Caspian, will open in 2008 following the global success of 2005's The Chronicles Of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe.

Ben Barnes - who will be seen next year as Prince Caspian - reprises his role in the third film, alongside Georgie Henley as Lucy and Skandar Keynes as Edmund.

'Michael Apted is one of the most versatile and talented film-makers working today, and he has proven himself to be a fantastic storyteller in a variety of genres,' Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures president of production Oren Aviv said.

'We're thrilled that he will be directing The Voyage Of The Dawn Treader and feel that he brings his own unique sensibilities, film-making experience, and vision to the project.

'This latest Narnia adventure will take people to an entirely different side of Narnia that no one has ever seen before, and is filled with lots of action, adventure, magic and wonder. We think moviegoers are going to be thrilled with this all-new installment.'

'Michael Apted's extraordinary body of work has prepared him to tackle this enormously exciting adventure,' Walden Media chief executive officer Cary Granat said. 'We just had a wonderful experience working with him on Amazing Grace, and we are confident that Michael will deliver a terrific film.'

Apted's directing credits include Amazing Grace for Walden Media's Bristol Bay Productions, The World Is Not Enough Gorky Park, Gorillas In The Mist, and Coal Miner's Daughter.

Mark Johnson and Andrew Adamson, who direct the first two instalments, will serve as producers.

Walden Media's senior vice president of business and legal affairs Frank H Smith negotiated the deal for the company. Apted is represented by CAA and Anthony Jones of Peters Fraser & Dunlop in London and attorney Alan Hergott.