C.S. Lewis once wrote, “Remember that all worlds draw to an end and that noble death is a treasure which no one is too poor to buy.” As if responding to this, last year Netflix swooped in, ponied up about a quarter of a billion (with a “b”) dollars and acquired the rights to the entire Chronicles of Narnia catalog. They announced a plan to produce a series of live-action movies and shows around the Narnia book series. According to Netflix, it’s the first time the entire catalog’s rights have been under one company’s roof. And now Netflix’s Chronicles of Narnia is happening.
It appears they’ll have the latitude to form the Narnia Universe in their own fashion. It’s an exciting venture and could offer something of a reset for Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy Pevensie along with everyone else in this far-reaching world.
There are some details already out there for what we can expect going forward from Netflix’s Chronicles of Narnia.
What Happened To The Narnia Movies
In 2005, C.S. Lewis’s iconic Chronicles of Narnia finally hit the big screen with a live-action adaptation of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. By most accounts it was a success, pulling in $745 million at the box office with a 76% Tomatometer rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The subsequent films were relatively underwhelming, though not terrible, with Prince Caspian going for $419 million/ 66% and Voyage of the Dawntreader slipping to $415 million/ 50%. And then things just, well, stopped.
See, the Chronicles of Narnia series is comprised of seven books, but by the time the film series reached book/movie four, The Silver Chair, production hit a snag. The film rights expired from Sony and the fourth movie officially entered production hell. Considering the scope and popularity of the series, generally in the discussion for best fantasy series of all-time, this was nothing short of a major disappointment. Eight years after the third movie came out, we still hadn’t heard much about the fate of the series. Now the movies are almost certainly dead in favor of Netflix’s new Chronicles of Narnia series.
How Netflix Will Tell The Narnia Story
Though the film series left off with Book Three, it’s unclear whether the Netflix vision picks up there or just hits a full reset. Even if they choose that path, Book Five, The Magician’s Nephew is technically a prequel, set before the events of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. Conventional wisdom would be to start with the most well-known and “loved” book, kicking things off with Lucy entering the wardrobe. But they definitely have a few different paths to work with.
Additionally, an important piece of information here is Netflix making clear their works with Narnia would be both movie and television show-based. Could this mean classic, one-for-one movies based on the books with different shows stemming off from the source material? Will the shows work much like Game Thrones or even the Chronicles of Narnia quasi-knock-off The Magicians in which each book is one season? There are a lot of directions for Netflix’s Chronicles of Narnia to go.
Making Fantasy On Netflix
A year after Netflix announced its intention to rebuild the Chronicles of Narnia universe, Deadline reported that Matthew Aldrich would “oversee the development and creative” around the project. Think something along the lines of Kevin Feige and the Marvel Universe. For such a big undertaking, Aldrich’s resume is pretty thin having written Pixar’s Coco and two other, lesser-known films in Spinning Man and Cleaner.
He got the okay from Mark Gordon’s production team who originally acquired the story rights from the C.S. Lewis Company. Gordon’s company, Entertainment One, is behind bigger films like Midway, War Dogs, Murder on the Orient Express, Molly’s Game, Source Code and more. In this respect, Netflix’s Chronicles of Narnia seems as if it’s in rather safe hands.
Casting The New Chronicles Of Narnia
Not much is known about who Netflix will cast for the new Chronicles of Narnia, with no official casting announcements. Because the books span different timelines, the Pevensies will undoubtedly need “kid” and “adult” versions because the series starts with them entering Narnia in their youth. Because C.S. Lewis plays a lot with “time” we do see them age dramatically over the course of the series. And, of course, The Magician’s Nephew will need an almost completely separate cast.
When Narnia Will Arrive On Netflix
According to Aldrich’s IMDB page, the series and movies are in pre-production so we will likely have to wait a bit before getting our first glimpse at Netflix’s new-look Chronicles of Narnia.
But, it’s a great time to be alive for fans of fantasy. HBO is coming off its Game of Thrones run with more shows down the pike. Amazon is getting set to reboot Lord of the Rings. And now Netflix has The Chronicles of Narnia. Exciting stuff and there will be more news to come.