Netflix’s Narnia Movies Could Break Expectations in One Surprising Way
Out of seven classic books, which will Netflix adapt first?
For writer-director Greta Gerwig, Barbie was just the beginning. Warner’s billion dollar baby proved that there’s still endless IP to mine — and with Barbieland now in the rearview, Gerwig is headed to another magical land ripe for franchise potential. Per The New Yorker, Gerwig is taking on Narnia next: she’s in talks to write and direct “at least two” films based on C.S. Lewis’ wildly popular Chronicles of Narnia series for Netflix. Though the finer details of the deal are still more or less under wraps, plans seem to be taking shape for the first of Gerwig’s two adaptations — but the fledgling franchise may not start where anyone expects.
Netflix film chief Scott Stuber has been involved with the reboot since 2018, and he’s rightfully excited about partnering up with Gerwig. As Narnia is such a well-known property, however, the creative team have apparently been looking for ways to keep their interpretation fresh. Rather than adapt the series in chronological order — starting with The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, as Disney’s Narnia franchise did — Gerwig &. Co could be taking a slight detour, and adapting the books out of order altogether.
“Obviously, The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe is kind of the preeminent one,” Stuber told Variety of the Narnia books. “But there’s such an interesting narrative form [to the Narnia series] if you read all of them.” Per Stuber, Gerwig and her producers are working on ways to “break the whole arc of all of it.” That suggests an unorthodox starting point, and according to a scoop from What’s On Netflix, the new Narnia franchise may pick up in the very middle of the story.
In early 2023, What’s On Netflix reported that Gerwig’s first Narnia film could be an adaptation of The Silver Chair, the fourth installment (and sixth, chronologically) of Lewis’ seven-book series. Notably, The Silver Chair has been in the works for years. Captain America’s Joe Johnston was previously set to direct, while Mark Gordon and TriStar Pictures were partnering to produce. While that deal ultimately fell through, Gordon is now a producer on Netflix’s Narnia project.
Could the streamer be picking up where TriStar left off? It could align with Stuber’s comments, but it would also inadvertently connect this new franchise to the previous Narnia saga. Disney, Walden Media, and 20th Century Studios worked together to adapt the first three books of the series: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, Prince Caspian, and Voyage of the Dawn Treader. By adapting The Silver Chair, Netflix could pick up where the TriStar franchise prematurely ended, but that choice could raise all manner of questions about continuity. It’d be a big risk for the franchise; even with such a talented multihyphenate at the helm, it may not pay off as well as a traditional starting point would.
Netflix remains tight-lipped about Gerwig’s concrete plan — but with the streamer reportedly hoping to start production in 2024, we may not have to wait much longer to find out. Whatever their choice, the franchise is in good hands.