In a surprise announcement today, Netflix will produce a new films and series based on The Chronicles of Narnia stories by C.S. Lewis, with Mark Gordon of Entertainment One (eOne), Douglas Gresham (Lewis’ stepson) and Vincent Sieber representing the C.S. Lewis Company as executive producers for series and producers for films.
“C.S. Lewis’ beloved Chronicles of Narnia stories have resonated with generations of readers around the world,” said Ted Sarandos, Chief Content Officer, Netflix. “Families have fallen in love with characters like Aslan and the entire world of Narnia, and we’re thrilled to be their home for years to come.”
“It is wonderful to know that folks from all over are looking forward to seeing more of Narnia, and that the advances in production and distribution technology have made it possible for us to make Narnian adventures come to life all over the world,” said Douglas Gresham, stepson of C.S. Lewis. “Netflix seems to be the very best medium with which to achieve this aim, and I am looking forward to working with them towards this goal.”
“Narnia is one of those rare properties that spans multiple generations and geographies,” said Mark Gordon, eOne’s President and Chief Content Officer, Film & Television. “eOne and I are excited to be collaborating with The C.S. Lewis Company and Netflix who have the capacity to translate the Narnia universe into both stellar feature-length and episodic programming. We cannot wait to get started on the multiple productions we hope to undertake.”
Exactly how things will break down between series and films is not immediately known. How this affects the planned Silver Chair adaptation, which had Mark Gordon attached via his Mark Gordon Company and set up at Sony, is also unknown, but it would appear that any continuation from the previous films as produced by Walden Media is dead, and this would more than likely be a true reboot and logically restart with The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe.
Over at Collider they had a chance to talk to producer Mark Gordon, who has taken on the rights to the Chronicles Of Narnia franchise through The Mark Gordon Company, which acquired the rights in 2013. The film has not yet received a green light for production, but they hope to start soon.
But what he said is certain to raise some eyebrows. When asked if any of the original cast would reprise their roles, his response was, “No, it’s all going to be a brand new franchise. All original. All original characters, different directors, and an entire new team that this is coming from.”
First, it was clarified that “All original characters” means from Narnia, not that they are necessarily creating characters to avoid association with the prior Walden Media-produced films. But there are actually only three main characters that have previously appeared in the films – Aslan, of course, who was voiced by Liam Neeson; now-King Caspian, previously played by Ben Barnes; and Eustace Scrubb (previously played by Will Poulter), the cousin of the Pevensies.
Recasting Caspian is easy, considering 30 Narnian years have passed since The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, so he’d be much older. Less so for Eustace, for whom only a year has passed – but at least 6 years will have passed for Will Poulter who’s definitely grown up, appearing most recently in The Revenant. And the voice of Aslan might easily be replaced, but not hearing Neeson will be a shock. So while the actors can be replaced, it would seem odd to replace the characters themselves, so I’m just assuming that he did not mean those three would not appear.
New characters include Jill Pole, a classmate of Eustace who joins him in Narnia; Puddleglum, A Marsh-wiggle who helps them; and Prince Rilian, the kidnapped son of Caspian. By the way, in the 1990 BBC miniseries of The Silver Chair, Puddleglum was played by none other than Tom Baker…
But calling this a reboot is odd – in typical Hollywood parlance, a reboot would be a retelling of a story…but The Silver Chair is simply the next logical story following the previous films. Thinking of it as a reboot of the franchise – getting the movies made after Disney and Fox (the previous studios) and Walden Media had passed on further movies – seems more correct.
Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, the writing duo behind all three Captain America films including the upcoming Captain America: Civil War (which started filming today), as well as Thor: The Dark World and all three Chronicles of Narnia films, and also created Marvel’s Agent Carter (man these guys are BUSY!), have been signed to take on what will be the climax of Phase 3 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe – Avengers: Infinity War, Parts 1 and 2.
Now that The Mark Gordon Company is looking to continue the Narnia franchise, they’ve signed Life of Pi writer David Magee to pen the script for The Chronicles Of Narnia: The Silver Chair, the fourth movie in the franchise, after Disney/Walden Media produced The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe in 2005 and Prince Caspian in 2008, and Fox/Walden Media produced The Voyage of the Dawn Treader in 2010.
Magee has two Oscar nominations for his screenplays already: last year’s Life of Pi, which he adapted from the novel, and 2004’s Finding Neverland, about Peter Pan creator J.M. Barrie.
“I have always loved The Chronicles Of Narnia,” Magee said, “And I endlessly imagined myself finding my own passage into Narnia someday. All these years later, I’m getting to fulfill that wish just a little bit by writing the film adaptation of The Silver Chair and could not be more excited about it.”
As for any concerns over the age of the children – fans of the series know that the Pevensie children actually do not appear (at least as children) in three of the books, including The Silver Chair, and make a cameo in The Final Battle. This book continues with their cousin Eustace Scrubb, and introduces his classmate, Jill Pole.
It’s been three years since the 2010 release of The Chronicles Of Narnia: The Voyage Of The Dawn Treader, the third film in the The Chronicles Of Narnia, released by Fox after Disney released the first two films (2005’s The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe and 2008’s Prince Caspian), and with waning response from fans (even though they grossed $1.6 billion combined) it seemed unlikely we’d see any of the other books turned into movies any time soon. But that seems to have changed.
The Mark Gordon Company (Criminal Minds) and the C.S. Lewis Company have agreed to develop The Chronicles Of Narnia: The Silver Chair, the next installment of the Narnia franchise.
The Silver Chair was the fourth book published, although it is often numbered 6 in more recent “chronological” numberings), and follows the return of Eustace Scrub (who first appeared in Dawn Treader) to Narnia with schoolmate Jill Pole, as they help the now elderly King Caspian search for his lost son, Prince Rilian. It was previously produced in 1990 by the BBC as a TV movie which featured the Fourth Doctor, Tom Baker, in the role of Puddleglum, the gloomy Marshwiggle, who helps Eustace and Jill.
Walden Media, who held the rights for the first three films, had instead pushed for a fourth movie to be based on The Magician’s Nephew, which acted as a prequel to the entire series.
Doing my periodic update of our Sci-Fi TV Store (if you think anything should be included, let me know!)…the next two classic Doctor Who releases will be ”Frontios” and ”Time And The Rani”, released on June 14th; the classic Krofft show H.R. Pufnstuf gets a new Collector’s Edition which includes the only episode of “Horror Hotel”, a combo-spinoff featuring characters from Pufnstuff and Lidsville (along with a new standard release), out on April 12th; the MacGyver TV movies, (released last June but I missed it); the CGI series ReBoot finally get’s its first two seasons released on DVD on March 1st; and The Twilight Zone get its Blu-Ray releases, with Season 3 just out and Season 4 due in May.
Finally had a chance to check out the third installment of The Chronicles Of Narnia, and the first without Disney’s involvement, Voyage Of The Dawn Treader. It’s been a while since I’ve read the book so I’m not sure of the total differences (and I’m sure there are many due to it being made into a film). The real question is, did Fox and a much smaller budget have a good or bad influence?