Netflix acquires film and TV rights for ‘Chronicles of Narnia’ series

October 3, 2018

by Carla Hay

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe
Georgie Henley, Anna Popplewell, William Moseley and Skander Keynes in “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe” (Photo courtesy of Walt Disney Films)

Netflix has acquired the rights to do movies and TV shows adapted from C.S. Lewis’ “The Chronicles of Narnia” children’s book series. The first three books in the series have already been made into feature films: 2005’s “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe” (which made $745 million in worldwide box-office sales, according to Box Office Mojo); 2008’s “The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian” ($420 million worldwide); and 2010’s “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader”  ($416 million worldwide). The first two “Narnia” films were directed by Andrew Adamson and distributed by Walt Disney Pictures, while the third “Narnia” film was directed Michael Apted and by distributed by 20th Century Fox’s Fox 2000.

In 2017, it was announced that Sony would be making “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Silver Chair” into a feature film with director Joe Johnston, and the movie was aiming for a 2019 release, but those plans fell apart. At the time he had signed on to direct the movie, Johnston said in interviews that he didn’t want “The Silver Chair” to look anything like the previous “Narnia” films, and he didn’t want “The Silver Chair” to even reference the previous “Narnia” films.

Before the movies, BBC had a “Chronicles of Narnia” TV series based on four “Narnia” books: “The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe” in 1988, “Prince Caspian” and “The Voyage of the Dawn Treader” in 1989 and  “The Silver Chair” in 1990.

According to a Netflix press release: “Under the terms of a multi-year deal between Netflix and The C.S. Lewis Company, Netflix will develop classic stories from across the Narnia universe into series and films for its members worldwide. All series and films produced through the deal will be Netflix productions, with Mark Gordon of Entertainment One (eOne) alongside Douglas Gresham and Vincent Sieber serving as executive producers for series and as producers for features.”

It hasn’t been announced at this point if Netflix will continue with plans for a “Silver Chair” movie. There also hasn’t been an announcement yet about which directors, actors or screenwriters will be involved in the Netflix “Narnia” projects. And there’s no word yet on a timeline for when these Netflix “Narnia” projects will be filmed and ready for release.

One thing is clear: It’s very unlikely that the stars of the original “Narnia” films will reprise their roles in the Netflix “Narnia” movies and TV series. If Netflix does remakes of the first three “Narnia” films, the four Pevensie siblings (the central characters in the “Narnia” series) will have to be recast, since the original actors who played the underage characters are now too old for the roles that they played in the first three movies. William Moseley, Anna Popplewell, Skandar Keynes and Georgie Henley played the Pevensie siblings in the first three “Narnia” movies. If “Netflix” does “The Silver Chair,” the central role of Eustace Scrubb (played by Will Poulter in “The Voyage of the Dawn Treader”) will also have to be recast, since that is an underage character.

Netflix’s “Narnia” deal comes nearly a year after it was announced in November 2017 that Amazon had signed a multi-year deal to make J.R.R. Tolkein’s “The Lord of the Rings” books into a TV series.