Netflix’s The Chronicles of Narnia – Everything We Know

Netflix now owns the rights to The Chronicles of Narnia and they are developing a movie as well as a series around the franchise.

By Rick Gonzales | Published

netflix chronicles of narnia

Back in 2018, Amazon Studios fired the first shot across the Netflix bow. It was then that Amazon announced they were putting Lord of the Rings into production in what has now been reported to be a $250 million price tag just to get the rights. Netflix wasted little time by successfully bidding for the rights to another popular book series, Chronicles of Narnia, but since the purchase of Narnia’s rights, not much has been heard from the Narnia creative team.

So, the question begs, just where does Netflix stand with the production of Narnia? Will fans of the books be seeing brand new movies or will they see a Narnia series on Netflix? Let’s take a look at everything we know about the upcoming (we hope) production of The Chronicles of Narnia.

NARNIA WILL BE BOTH MOVIES AND TV SERIES

According to Netflix, the plan for Narnia has been and will continue to be both a Netflix series and a couple of Narnia movies. When it was announced in 2018, Gresham said in a statement, “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. 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.”

Netflix’s Co-CEO and Chief Content Officer, Ted Sarandos, also added at the time, “C.S. Lewis’s beloved Chronicles of Narnia stories have resonated with generations of readers around the world. 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.” He was wise not to define what “years to come” truly meant because they are almost five years into that deal and not one thing has been produced.

GRETA GERWIG WILL DIRECT THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA

After years of virtual silence surrounding The Chronicles of Narnia, some movement has been made and it concerns bringing on a big name to possibly direct the first two planned films in the series. That name is director, producer, and actress, Greta Gerwig. The award-winning Gerwig is best known for her films Lady Bird (2017) and Little Women (2019).

Netflix has not confirmed that they are seeking out Gerwig to handle the first two films. Gerwig would be a popular choice to bring The Chronicles of Narnia to the big screen (or the Netflix streaming service, such as it is) although she is currently up to her neck with her next film, Barbie, which stars Margot Robbie as the title character and Ryan Gosling as Barbie’s Ken. Gerwig is handling both the writing and directing duties of the Barbie movie.

Time will tell if Gerwig accepts Netflix’s offer. It may be hard to refuse being given the keys to The Chronicles of Narnia car. More on this when news breaks.

THERE HAVE BEEN THREE MOVIES IN THE FRANCHISE ALREADY, BUT THIS IS A REBOOT

When Netflix outbid all companies for the rights to The Chronicles of Narnia, they purchased the rights to all seven of the C.S. Lewis novels. Lewis, who passed away in 1963 from kidney failure, published the first Narnia novel – The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe – in 1950 and for the next six years, produced one book per year in the series. These were Prince Caspian: The Return to Narnia (1951), The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (1952), The Silver Chair (1953), The Horse and His Boy (1954), The Magician’s Nephew (1955), and The Last Battle (1956).

As you can see, and probably are already aware of, Netflix has a lot of material to play with here, though getting the material to the big screen is not as easy as it may sound. During Lewis’ lifetime, he never sold the rights to his Narnia novels for fear that, at that time, there wasn’t a production studio that would be able to replicate the more fantastical elements layered throughout Lewis’ books.

Even Lewis’ stepson, Douglas Gresham (who is also Lewis’ literary executor) had his doubts, that is until he saw some early CGI animal effects, which eventually convinced him that a film adaptation could work.

Those film adaptations did work and the first one arrived in 2005 with The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. It was a massive success, bringing in a little over $715 million at the box office, and spurred a second film. It arrived three years later.

The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian hit the cineplexes in 2008 and follows the same Pevensie children, who return to Narnia and find that 1,300 years have passed. The film wasn’t as successful as the first, only bringing in $419 million at the box office.

The third film in the series, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, came two years later in 2010. There was some friction in this production, as Disney bowed out after having budget disputes with Walden Media. The film did even less at the box office, but not much, bringing in $415 million.

Despite the slow decline at the box office, and despite Disney bailing on the series, the three films still brought in nearly $1.56 billion at the box office.

Walden Media’s contract to produce Narnia films ended in 2011. At that time, The Mark Gordon Company jumped in with an agreement with the C.S. Lewis Company to produce the fourth film in the series, this one based on Lewis’s fourth book, The Silver Chair. But like many things in Hollywood, Narnia was put on the back shelf.

Writers were hired, and directors were hired, but nothing ever truly materialized. Sony got involved with TriStar Productions, as did Entertainment One Films. Still, the fourth film did not move forward.

It wasn’t until 2018 when Netflix stepped in and purchased the rights that a plan began to emerge. New films were discussed, a Netflix series was pitched, and all seemed to be moving, finally, in a positive direction. Until it didn’t.

THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA PRODUCTION WAS SLOWED BECAUSE OF THE PANDEMIC

Some in the know claim that Narnia was moving full speed ahead until, like many things in Hollywood at the time, COVID knocked it off the tracks. Apparently, though, those behind The Chronicles of Narnia scene are beginning to right the ship as evidenced by Netflix going strong in the paint after Greta Gerwig. If that eventually materializes, that will be a big get for the Narnia franchise.

The question becomes, where exactly would Netflix start with Narnia? The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe has been done ad nauseam, having been produced as a television show in 1967, a 1979 animated TV film, part of a late 1980s live-action TV series that adapted the first four novels, and finally the 2005 big screen picture. Is this where they start?

We all know the next two books were put on film and we also know that the following two books, The Silver Chair and The Horse and His Boy were planned but never even made it to production. The Magician’s Nephew and The Last Battle have never been on the dance card, so would there be consideration of starting there? The chances are probably not, especially if Netflix is keen on creating a series for their streaming service.