C.S.Lewis was the author of the old school seven book series of fantasy books before J.K Rowling capped off her series with Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows almost seven years ago. The first three books in the Chronicles of Narnia series were eventually adapted to three movies released from 2005 to 2010 and despite the indelible impact the books had on modern English fantasy literature, the movies were never hugely successful.
The company that made those movies sold the rights to the Chronicles of Narnia books in 2013 and since then plans to go forth with an adaptation of the fourth book in the series have been in motion. Recently, a producer for the new company let a little information slip: even though they are picking up with the fourth book, this will essentially be a series reboot.
The first book and movie The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, released in 2005, was the box office zenith for the series. Produced by The Walden Group and distributed by The Walt Disney Company, the film cast the four human protagonists of the early books: Peter (William Moseley), Susan (Anna Popplewel), Lucy (Georgie Henley) and Edmund (Skander Keynes). They got Tilda Swinton to play the Ice Queen (in what remains excellent casting!) and Liam Neeson to voice Aslan, the talking lion, the Jesus of Narnia. The movie came out and was a relative hit, grossing $291 million in domestic box office and over $450 million overseas.
Even if the first movie didn’t do well, The Walden Group had made sure to have a screenplay for the sequel ready. Best case scenario, they had another Harry Potter on their hands. The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian went into production as soon as possible so they could still use the child cast from the first film in the returning roles for Peter, Susan, Lucy and Edmond.
Our Recommended Books
Prince Caspian was a big budget follow-up to The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobethat only made $419 million worldwide. In other words: not successful enough to automatically get another film.
Pre-production on the adaptation of the third novel The Voyage of the Dawn Treader began, then was delayed because of schedule complications with the child actors reprising their roles. During that delay, the producers of the movie and the Walt Disney Company got into “creative differences” that also involved budgetary concerns that lead to Disney dropping The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. That left the movie in need of additional financing and distribution. 20th Century Fox stepped in, but Dawn Treader still wouldn’t be as big a budget as Caspian.
The third movie made $415 million worldwide, but not much of that total gross was in the United States. It wasn’t good enough to spark immediate interest in adapting the fourth book, which would have seen Dawn Treader cast members Ben Barnes (Prince Caspian) and Will Poulter (Eustice) return to search for Caspian’s lost son. The C.S. Lewis Company and another called the Mark Gordon Company came to own the rights to The Chronicles of Narnia movies in 2013 and they also started developing the fourth book, The Silver Chair.
Now, out of the TCA press conferences in Los Angeles, Collider spoke with Mark Gordon (of the Company), one of the producers on The Silver Chair who said the project is very much alive. “We’re hoping to be able to make the movie very shortly,” he said. “We’re very excited about it.”
When questioned about the returning cast, he said that this will be an entirely new cast. That means Liam Neeson is probably out as Aslan (though it’d be a win to get him back) and Barnes and Poulter won’t be coming back either. Instead, this new partnership will be pitching The Silver Chair as a new beginning, just from the fourth book in a seven book series.