Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the wardrobe... Launched off the back of successful fantasy book adaptations like Harry Potter, the live-action films based on C.S. Lewis' The Chronicles Of Narnia novel series (beginning with The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe in 2005) started off on a strong note at the box office, but the future of this franchise on the big screen remains up in the air.
The Chronicles Of Narnia: The Voyage Of The Dawn Treader came out in 2010 and grossed $416 million worldwide (on a $155 million budget), but the series has lost some of its momentum over the five years since then. Walden Media was originally going to make The Magician's Nephew next (based on what is chronologically the first Narnia book), but those plans were scuppered when the film rights to Lewis' work expired in 2011. The C.S. Lewis Company thereafter revealed plans to make The Silver Chair next, and it would appear the project has now taken the next step forward.
“Completed the final draft of The Silver Chair today. I’ve had the immense pleasure to work on the project for over a year now. So fulfilling.”
Magee was announced as being the writer for The Silver Chair back in 2013, following The C.S. Lewis Company making a new deal with producers The Mark Gordon Company. The fourth in the Narnia series picks up decades after the events of The Dawn Treader, but less than a year in the real world (what with time moving faster in each dimension). King Caspian (played by Ben Barnes in the previous two films), now an old man, enlists the lion Aslan to track down his missing son. The mythical beast in turn recruits two kids: Eustace Scrubb, played by Will Poulter in The Voyage Of The Dawn Treader, and Jill Pole.
Bear in mind, Magee handing in his final script draft doesn't mean the screenwriting process on Silver Chair is all done, as other writers may later be recruited to fine-tune Magee's screenplay. Furthermore, this doesn't mean Silver Chair is ready to take the next step forward in pre-production; the significant delay between installments could result in some major changes in cast and crew on the next Narnia adventure. Case in point, Poulter is a bigger name now (after his work on films like We're the Millers and The Maze Runner), but seeing as he isn't exactly as a boarding school-aged child anymore, some re-casting may be in order (either that or some narrative changes).
The other concern is that demand for additional Chronicles Of Narnia films might not be so high right now. The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe was a classic stand-alone children's book, but its later sequels are less well-known (and get a lot darker) and that no doubt partly accounts for why the Prince Caspian and Voyage of the Dawn Treader film adaptations saw a considerable box office drop-off, compared to the first installment. Considering the huge, sweeping vistas and weird creatures in Silver Chair, the movie version will need a fittingly large budget - something that makes the task of getting a green light more difficult. (Perhaps with some help from the world of alternative rock...)
We'll continue to bring you more details on The Chronicles Of Narnia: The Silver Chair as they become available.