Netflix has announced that they have signed a multi-year deal with the C.S. Lewis Company to produce multiple movies and television shows based on ‘The Chronicles of Narnia’. Lewis wrote seven novels in this series– ‘The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe’, ‘Prince Caspian’, ‘The Voyage of the Dawn Treader’, ‘The Silver Chair’, ‘The Horse and His Boy’, ‘The Magician’s Nephew’, and ‘The Last Battle’. The books were originally published one-per-year beginning in 1950 and there have been numerous adaptations, although Lewis himself did not feel that they should be adapted into films. (And in the 1950s, he was probably right.)
Netflix has not announced which projects will come first, but it is clear that they have big plans. This is the first time that a single company has held the rights to all seven books. Mark Gordan, Douglas Gresham, and Vincent Sieber will executive produce the new films and produce all upcoming shows. As Gordon said:
“Narnia is one of those rare properties that spans multiple generations and geographies. We cannot wait to get started on the multiple productions we hope to undertake.”
In 2005, Disney, partnered with Walden Media, released a lavish theatrical adaptation of ‘The Lion, the Witch and the Warbrobe’, followed in 2008 by ‘Prince Caspian’. The sequel made almost $300 million less than the first and perhaps realizing that this series was only going to get less popular over time, Disney decided not to continue the series, even though they already had ‘Voyage of the Dawn Treader’ in pre-production. Walden went to 20th Century Fox, who co-produced and released that film and, sure enough, it performed slightly lower than ‘Prince Caspian’.
Walden Media’s deal expired in 2011 and the C.S. Lewis Company decided that there would be a moratorium placed on any further adaptations until at least 2014. At that time, a deal was made with the Mark Gordon Company to produce ‘The Silver Chair’. Yes, they decided to move forward rather than go back and reboot from the beginning. Last year, Joe Johnson was announced to be directing and he stated that he expected to begin filming in late 2018.
It’s unknown if that is still the case, but the Mark Gordon Company is still attached, and has already spent a great deal of time and money developing ‘The Silver Chair’. Therefore, it might be smart to keep things going as they stand, rather than retooling everything. Sure, the first Disney adaptation is now over ten years old, but it still holds up. Ideally, Netflix could offer the earlier films, but those are Disney creations (including ‘Voyage of the Dawn Treader’, now that Disney owns Fox) so that may not be possible much longer, as Disney is preparing to launch its own streaming service.
Of course, besides the actual films, perhaps the biggest cultural impact the ‘Chronicles of Narnia’ have had on pop culture was inspiring the first SNL Digital Short, ‘The Chronicles of Narnia (Lazy Sunday)’ which kicked off a series of Digital Shorts and essentially created the musical collective The Lonely Island.
You can check that out below: