Last we heard about The Chronicles of Narnia was in June of last year when Life of Pi and Finding Neverland scribe David Magee sent out a tweet to his private Twitter account saying that he completed a first draft of The Silver Chair after spending more than a year working on the project. It was an unofficial update, but a welcome one for fans of a franchise that seemingly expired quietly without a trace. Today, I’m happy to bring an official update on the progress of the film via producer Mark Gordon, who says Narnia is not only very much still alive, it’s experiencing a bit of a rebirth.
Gordon was on hand at the TCA winter press tour in anticipation his new CBS series Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders, and I took the opportunity to inquire about the status of the next Narnia sequel. Gordon confirmed that they’re in active development, and hoping to move into production in the near future.
We’re hoping to be able to make the movie very shortly. We’re very excited about it.
However, it seems that the next film won’t be a sequel at all, but the start of a new franchise entirely. Given the plot of The Silver Chair, the fourth book in the series, which takes places decades in future from where we last saw our heroes in 2010’s Voyage of the Dawn Treader, I also asked if we would see any of the original cast reprising their roles in the new film. The answer is a hard no.
No, 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.
If the phrase “original characters” causes your hair to bristle, don’t worry, I asked him to clarify if these were entirely new character creations or existing characters in the Narnia mythology that have yet to get the movie treatment, and he confirmed the later. The new characters will come “from the world” of Narnia.
The rebooted angle doesn’t come as a total surprise. The Mark Gordon Company and The C.S. Lewis Company took over the rights from The Walden Group back in 2013, when they first announced plans for a Silver Chair adaptation, so it’s not surprising that the production companies would want to build something new instead of relying on the foundation of a franchise that was ultimately always a bit of an underperformer.
Though Gordon was reluctant to share details of their approach to the new script, it does leave some interesting questions to be answered. Presumably, Aslan will have to be recast. It’s hard to imagine a Narnia film without the iconic character, and especially The Silver Chair. The original story follows a wizened King Caspian (originated on screen by Ben Barnes) as he enlists the help of Aslan to find the missing Prince Rilian, Caspian’s son and only heir. Aslan recruits two English boarding school students, Eustace Scrubb (played by Will Poulter in Voyage of the Dawn Treader) and Jill Pole to help track down the prince and solve the mystery. It’s possible that Magee’s script is completely reinventing the approach to the classic C.S. Lewis narrative, and Gordon says he hopes to be able to talk about it more openly soon, but for now it’s hard to imagine they would remove their most iconic character from the proceedings.
What do you guys think? Are you glad that Narnia is getting a fresh take? Sad that Poulter won’t return as Eustace? Sounds off in the comments below.