Goonies never say die, and neither do producers who own the rights to potentially lucrative franchises. In the wake of the billion dollar successes of The Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter, movie makers hit their local libraries for material to turn into new franchises, and among them was the seven-book series The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis. It was an obvious choice, Lewis and LotR author J.R.R. Tolkien were peers, so Walden Media chose wisely in looking for a long-running and successful film franchise, right? Maybe. Because while Chronicles of Narnia hasn’t been the smash hit anticipated, it has, actually, been a survivor, and now another studio’s going to take a crack at cracking it.
Deadline is reporting that Sony Picture’s TriStar division is signing on as the new partner with The Mark Gordon Company and eOne to produce the next phase of Narnia movies. The Walt Disney Company produced the first two films, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and Prince Caspian, and Twentieth Century Fox produced the third, Voyage of the Dawn Treader. It’s been a game of diminishing returns though because while Wardrobe made almost $292 million, it was followed up with $142 for Caspian and $104 for Dawn Treader.
Obviously, the production is confident that there’s still money to be made from Lewis’ book series. “Developing this project with The C.S. Lewis Company has been immensely exciting and a real joy,” said producer Mark Gordon. “We are so pleased to team up with our good friends at TriStar and our partners at eOne to introduce this new, magical chapter of the Narnia franchise to fans around the world, both old and new.”
“Reading The Chronicles of Narnia was one of the formative experiences of my childhood, just as it has been for children around the world for generations,” added Hannah Minghella, the head of TriStar. “To have the opportunity to bring new life to the Narnia films with a new creative team is a career highlight. Our mission is to build TriStar Pictures as a home for filmmaker-driven literary and commercial movies, and this film represents a huge step forward for us. We’re thrilled to be working with Mark, Doug, Melvin, Vincent, and David as we adapt The Silver Chair.
The Silver Chair was the fourth book published in the Chronicles of Narnia series, but it’s second-to-last chronologically in the story. It features two characters from the Dawn Treader: King Caspian, who at this point is an old man, and Eustace, cousin of the Pevensie children (the heroes of the first three books) who has only aged a year between Dawn Treader and Silver Chair. Considering that it’s been six years since the release of Dawn Treader, Eustace will very likely be recast, as will Caspian who was played by Ben Barnes in two previous Narnia films. Likely, the production will keep using the voice of Liam Neeson as Aslan the Lion though.
We’ll have more news about this project as it develops.