‘The Chronicles of Narnia’ — What Happened to Production of ‘The Silver Chair’?
The Chronicles of Narnia had successfully garnered generations of fans from the seven-part book series alone. Then came along the Disney adaptations.
Even today, stumbling across Disney's The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe makes some viewers feel like the holidays are close by. The 2005 big-screen debut was followed by Prince Caspian in 2008 and finally The Voyage Of The Dawn Treader, which Fox released in 2010.
Fans have long hoped that the movie series would deliver its fourth installment soon. But to no avail, as the movie series has seemingly faded into the mists of time.
While it was understandably hard for fans to not feel dispirited, Netflix came forth with a sliver of hope when they acquired the rights to the franchise.
'The Silver Chair' Was Announced in 2013
Three years after the third movie in the series, the Mark Gordon Company and C.S. Lewis Company made a deal to jointly develop and produce The Chronicles of Narnia: The Silver Chair.
Mark Gordon, C.S. Lewis's stepson Douglas Gresham, and Vincent Sieber were set to be the producers. They were supposed to work with Mark Gordon Company to come up with a script for the movie.
The movie was supposed to be an adaptation of Silver Chair, the fourth book in the series of novels that sold over a hundred million copies worldwide. However, no official release date was announced.
David Magee Began Working on the Script
In 2014, news circulated that David Magee, the writer responsible for the screenplays for Finding Neverland and Life of Pi, was on board. He began working on the script soon after.
Did you know that The Chronicles of Narnia have been translated into 47 languages and sold over 100 million copies worldwide? ðŸ¦Â #Narnia
"It's an awfully big wardrobe." #NarniaAroundTheWorld pic.twitter.com/5GvHOAkRQB — NarniaWeb (@NarniaWeb) July 23, 2021
Again in 2015, the writer made an unofficial announcement via his private Twitter handle that he had completed the first draft of the script for The Chronicles of Narnia: The Silver Chair.
At that point in time, it had been half a decade since The Voyage Of The Dawn Treader was released, and fans had begun to lose hope. Although Magee's first draft was in no way to be taken as the ultimate word, fans still let out a sigh of relief.
However, several outlets reported at the time that despite Magee's words, the movie wasn't anywhere near production.
The Fourth Movie Would Be a Reboot
During a press tour for his upcoming CBS series Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders in 2016, Gordon gave his word to Collider that the movie was in active development. They were hoping to move into production in the near future.
"The re-reader is looking not for actual surprises (which can come only once) but for a certain surprisingness. ... It is the quality of unexpectedness, not the fact that delight us. It is even better the second time." -@CSLewis, 'On Stories' pic.twitter.com/JICL4D6Lgq — NarniaWeb (@NarniaWeb) July 22, 2021
He also confirmed that the movie series was gearing up for a reboot with their fourth film, noting that it was going to be a brand new franchise with "all original characters, different directors, and an entire new team."
But beyond that, Gordon was careful not to share any further details of their approach to the new script. That was until 2017.
Gordon Promised Better Visuals
In an interview with Red Carpet News TV at the premiere of Molly's Game, Gordon acknowledged they had kept the fans waiting for a long time. However, he saw it as an opportunity for a rebirth of the series with new elements, cast, and the team that would work on it.
He also affirmed that they had Joe Johnston on board as a director. Still, the most exciting piece of news was that he announced the team was going to utilize newer technologies to top the previous films' visuals. He added,
The world of visual effects has been much more sophisticated than it's been in a long time. We think the next series of movies are going to be great.
Netflix Took Over
Jump to 2018, and the streaming giant Netflix announced it would develop new series and film projects base on C.S. Lewis' iconic book series. Netflix's deal with the author marked the first time in history that the rights to all seven Narnia books were owned by a single entity.
Since Netflix was essentially doing a complete reboot, the idea for the original The Chronicles of Narnia: The Silver Chair that should have begun filming in 2018 was swept under the rug.
Producer Gresham was fairly happy with the deal at the time. In a statement released by Netflix, he said,
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.
He even claimed that Netflix was the best medium with which they could achieve said aim. He was excitedly looking forward to working with the streaming service.
Gresham Wishes for an Episodic Format
Most recently, in 2020, Gresham made an appearance on 90 Seconds to Knowing C.S. Lewis, where he said that he would love to see Netflix adapt the Narnia series into an episodic format. He added,
Because with a movie, you have an hour, maybe two hour maximum if you really stretch it, to put an entire book - an adventure storybook - into the film. And you just can't do it.
"Wrong will be right, when Aslan comes in sight,
At the sound of his roar, sorrows will be no more,
When he bares his teeth, winter meets its death,
And when he shakes his mane, we shall have spring again."
Art by Natalya Tabatchikova. #Narnia #TheLionTheWitchandtheWardrobe pic.twitter.com/lC7Qle49rk — NarniaWeb (@NarniaWeb) August 1, 2021
Gresham wanted the adaptations to be as faithful to the original books as they could be. So, an episodic format would be ideal for translating "the entire book, every single nuance of it, on the screen."
Surely that was delightful news for fans. If the streaming platform created a show that lived up to Gresham's description, it would surely win over long-time fans of the original books as well as new fans looking for their next fantasy fix.
Sadly, Gresham also confessed that he had not heard a word from Netflix since the deal was signed two years prior. He was honestly worried as to whether they were going to do anything about it.
However, he remained hopeful that things would soon fall into place. According to Gresham, it was possible that Netflix was lying in wait for a large enough budget to be allocated such that they could include every single detail from the books.