C.S. Lewis’ beloved childhood series, The Chronicles of Narnia, had a strong start in Hollywood. Disney released the original film, The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe in 2005 and its sequel, Prince Caspian in before Fox took over with Voyage of the Dawn Treader in 2010. The popular series followed in Harry Potter’s fantasy wake, pulling in $1.5 billion dollars internationally. However, when production company Walden Media lost the rights, things began to slow down for the series. Walden decided to scrap their plans to make The Magicians Nephew and left Narnia and the franchise in limbo.
And so the wardrobe remained partially cracked, until the C.S. Lewis company and the Mark Gordon Company acquired the rights to the series in 2013. Last summer, Academy Award-nominated writer David Magee (Finding Neverland) announced that, after nearly a year’s worth of work, he’d completed his first draft of The Silver Chair, stirring up some hope for Narnia fans. Recently, producer Mark Gordon (Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders) had some surprising news about the direction of the revamped franchise.
Answering questions at the Television Critics Association winter press tour, the prolific producer was excited to announce forward progress on The Silver Chair. "We’re hoping to be able to make the movie very shortly," he said. Gordon also shared (via Collider) that the renewed production would be a complete reboot of the series rather than a sequel. The upcoming production will shed its previous cast and start from scratch:
"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."
Gordon later clarified that the cast, rather than the characters, were changing.
Since Voyage of the Dawn Treader met with less-than-stellar reviews and underwhelming box office returns for Fox, it’s unsurprising that Gordon and his co-producers chose to overhaul the series. Of course, this does leave Narnia with a power-void until they recast Aslan -- since the main thrust of The Silver Chair has Aslan searching for Prince Caspian’s son Rillian, along with the Pevensie’s cousin Eustice and his schoolmate Jill Pole. There is also some speculation that David Magee’s script will renovate Lewis’ approach as well, but Gordon isn’t tipping his hand yet.
Gordon and his co-producers definitely picked a good time to reimagine the series. The fourth book in the series, The Silver Chair actually takes place without any of the original Pevensie children (Peter, Susan, Lucy, and Edmund). The only recurring character from the previous books, aside from the Narnians, is Edmund and Lucy’s cousin Eustice Scrubb (played in Voyage by Will Poulter, who will presumably be recast as well). And as Prince Caspian has aged considerably in the books, finding a new actor won’t meddle too much with the continuity of the series.
Without the previous films to rely on, though, it’s unclear how the renovated series will proceed. A reimagined Narnia, courtesy of Magee’s pen, may be an interesting take on Lewis’ classic works, but will it completely negate the previous three films? From this point on, will Gordon and company choose to rebuild the entire Chronicles of Narnia out of sequence, or do they only intend to film the remaining books in the series? Hopefully, the next few months will clarify a few things.
How do you feel about a fresh start for the Chronicles of Narnia?
We’ll continue to bring you more details on The Chronicles Of Narnia: The Silver Chair as they become available.