The Chronicles Of Narnia Film Series: What Happened?
Remember The Chronicles of Narnia? While perhaps not as instantly recognizable as fantasy giants like The Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter, C.S. Lewis's enchanting tales continue to captivate a devoted audience long after their original publication. The early to mid-2000s marked a golden era for bringing such literary marvels to cinematic life. Alongside the successes of Middle-earth and Hogwarts, Narnia graced the silver screen with three adaptations from its seven-book saga between 2005 and 2010. But here's the intriguing twist: only three out of seven made it to film.
What happened to the rest? Disney spearheaded the first duo of films, unleashing The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe and Prince Caspian onto eager audiences. Subsequently, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader set sail under the guidance of 20th Century Fox. Yet, after its 2010 voyage, the series suddenly docked. A fourth chapter dangled tantalizingly close, ensnared in intricate contractual negotiations that kept the franchise's future in limbo. Latest whispers hinted at fresh installments destined for Netflix, though details remain elusive.
Join us as we embark on a journey through the labyrinthine narrative of the Narnia film series—unraveling its enigmas, exploring its hiatus, and pondering whether these cherished books shall ever grace the silver screen again.
#1. The Chronicles of Narnia Film
C.S. Lewis, the author, was skeptical of his books being adapted for film during his lifetime. He believed that the series' characters and setting were too fantastical and could never be accurately represented on screen due to the limitations of 1950s technology. Lewis died before witnessing the wonders of early-2000s CGI. He might have changed his mind if he had seen The Mummy Returns' masterfully rendered Scorpion King.
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe was first adapted into a 10-part TV series in 1967, just a few years after Lewis' death. In 1979, an animated version of the same book was released. Finally, between 1988 and 1990, a second TV series adapted the first four books in the series. Despite this, it took nearly 50 years after the series' publication for a proper film adaptation to be released.
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#2. The Modern Film Series
The modern series launched with The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe in 2005. It followed the four Pevensie children - Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy - as they discover a portal to the world of Narnia inside an old wardrobe. Three years later, Prince Caspian reintroduced the Pevensies to Narnia and introduced the titular prince.
With The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, the original trilogy came to an end in 2010. It wasn't intended to be the series' final installment, though. The Silver Chair, the fourth book to be published, was said to be the upcoming movie in 2011. According to conflicting reports, the Magician's Nephew, the sixth book and a prequel to the series, was reportedly the next book to be adapted for the big screen. Due to internal disputes over the series' direction, the C.S. Lewis estate's deal with production company Walden Media was terminated later that year, effectively putting the movie franchise on hold.Lewis' estate and The Mark Gordon Company renewed their collaboration two years later, in 2013, to create The Silver Chair as the fourth movie. Production seemed to be progressing for a while because financiers and distributors were announced through 2017. Would the fourth entry, which had been delayed for so long, finally be released? Wait a minute.
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#3. Enter Netflix
The first time a single company ever did so was in 2018 when the streaming juggernaut purchased all rights to the Narnia library. In conjunction with the acquisition, Netflix provided specifics about its multi-year plans to create fresh film and television adaptations. Even though Gordon himself continued to serve as executive producer, the streamer's acquisition also signaled the end of all outside production, including the Silver Chair produced by the Mark Gordon Company.
Nearly five years ago, Netflix announced its lofty plans for the series, but again, news was slow to spread. Whatever the producer, this show just seems to have bad luck. After some talent acquisition in 2019, we didn't hear much for a while.
#4. But there may still be hope
There may, however, still be hope. Let's go to July 2023. Nationwide, Barbenheimer fever has taken hold. So who is more qualified to direct upcoming Narnia projects? Greta Gerwig, who directed the film Barbie, of course. According to reports, Gerwig will helm two upcoming Netflix Narnia productions. The books she will adapt are unknown, as is the potential release date. But at least that provides some evidence that the series hasn't been lost to the passage of time. Barbie, Narnia, Little Woman, and Lady Bird. This is a strong resume for Gerwig. What does this mean then?
Will fans of the Narnia series finally get to see the remaining books adapted for the big screen? We shouldn't hold our breath, though, considering that we've been told "a fourth movie is coming" for the past ten years. It's possible that Netflix's adaptation will vanish into obscurity, much like the numerous earlier attempts. Greta Gerwig is the first female director of a $1 billion box office success, so hiring her suggests that Netflix may still have some faith in the project. All we can do right now is wait and see, as we have done for years.