We’re soon coming up to the three-year anniversary of Netflix acquiring the rights to adapt the works of the C.S. Lewis Company. Since then we’ve had one major announcement and a lot of nothing. Here’s everything we know about Netflix’s The Chronicles of Narnia adaptations as of September 2021.
Before we dive into Netflix’s involvement going forward, let’s quickly take a look back at what the book series is and how it’s been adapted previously.
Note: This is an ongoing article that’ll be updated over time as we learn more – last updated: September 23rd, 2021.
What are The Chronicles of Narnia?
Let’s start off with the basics. The Chronicles of Narnia is a book series from the famed author C.S.Lewis that were published in the 1950s.
The book series is a fantasy series that transports us to the fictional realm of Narnia. In total, seven books were published under the Chronicles of Narnia banner.
How The Chronicles of Narnia books have been developed before
The series has seen multiple adaptations over the years including a BBC series, a radio series and of course, the Disney movies.
The book series biggest adaptation came in 2005 when Walt Disney Pictures and Walden Media released the first movie entitled: “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe”.
It later released another film that was distributed under Disney with the third movie being distributed by 20th Century Fox. A fourth movie was planned but never materialized.
How and when Netflix scored the Narnia franchise
The news of Netflix teaming up with The C.S. Lewis Company dropped back in October 2018.
Netflix has a “multi-year deal” whereby it will have multiple film and series projects on the go all based on the books of Narnia exclusively.
Alongside the original announcement, Ted Sarandos, who’s now the co-CEO of Netflix, said: “C.S. Lewis’s beloved Chronicles of Narnia stories have resonated with generations of readers around the world,” adding “Families have fallen in love with characters like Aslan and the entire world of Narnia, and we’re thrilled to be their home for years to come.”
It was also reiterated multiple times that Netflix would be adapting Narnia into a Universe, positioning the series to go up against the likes of Game of Thrones and the Marvel Cinematic Universe albeit for a more family-orientated audience.
You can see more from the original press release over on the official Narnia Facebook post but here are the main lines:
“Netflix will develop new series and film projects based on C.S. Lewis’ beloved The Chronicles of Narnia series. 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.
The most important aspect of the Netflix deal and what makes it more unique than what has come before is that Netflix has access to all seven of the books. This means some of the later books that have never seen adaptations before could be coming to Netflix where previous owners of the license haven’t been able to.
We do know (courtesy of IMDbPro) that Mark Gordon, Douglas Gresham, Vincent Sieber will be involved with most of the upcoming Netflix Narnia projects.
Matthew Aldrich becomes “architect” on Narnia Universe for Netflix in 2019
Months after waiting for more information on Narnia on Netflix, finally, we got some news on June 12th, 2019.
The news came that the co-writer for Disney Pixar’s Coco, a multi-award winning movie, will be working on Narnia. In a tweet, Netflix’s See What’s Next account said the following:
“Coco co-writer Matthew Aldrich will serve as the creative architect and oversee the development of all films and shows adapted from C.S. Lewis’ beloved Narnia universe for Netflix”
“Coco” co-writer Matthew Aldrich will serve as the creative architect and oversee the development of all films and shows adapted from C.S. Lewis’ beloved Narnia universe for Netflix pic.twitter.com/k77EG6f9N4
— Netflix Queue (@netflixqueue) June 12, 2019
In January 2020, Narniaweb posted that Douglas Gresham (stepson of C. S. Lewis) has little knowledge of where Netflix is at with production.
Jordan Raynor: What is the latest on this partnership between Netflix and the C. S. Lewis Company?
Douglas Gresham: Yeah, to be honest, I can’t tell you very much at all. We did the deal quite some months ago and I haven’t heard a word since. I mean, I am listed as the producer, but I’ve heard no word on what they plan to do or how they plan to do it or when they plan to do it for that matter. Looking at things, I don’t know whether Netflix is ready to rock ‘n roll on this or not, but we will find out in due course.
In June 2020, NarniaWeb picked up on a Q&A with the manager of Matthew Aldrich who stated that the Netflix projects will be done from the perspective of kids saying:
“Characters come from understanding people. Sometimes it’s about having children…
Matt Aldrich can write kids right now because he has kids and he talks to them and he’s trying to figure them out. He runs his scripts by them and he pitches them stories. When they get bored he cuts it, when they get excited he adds it. His two kids are a testing room.”
Since the architect announcement, it’s been very quiet from Netflix as lots of planning goes into the various projects.
In January 2021, Scott Stuber who heads Netflix’s film division told the New York Times that Narnia was among the projects predicted to release “beyond 2021” meaning that although we might hear of projects this year, we’re not expecting the release of any.
Netflix France is one of the few Netflix accounts to consistently acknowledge the shows and movies are even still in existence with the last interaction being on March 14th, 2021.
Des séries et des films Narnia sont en préparation !
— Netflix France (@NetflixFR) March 14, 2021
The only update we’ve had regarding Narnia since Netflix France acknowledged its existence was via a source for NarniaWeb in August 2021 who told them that the titles are still in development.
Even so, three years with not a heck of a lot to show for it at least publicly.
Where will The Chronicles of Narnia on Netflix start from?
The Lion, Witch and The Wardrobe is the natural starting point for Narnia but The Magician’s Nephew book serves as the prequel which fleshes out the realm of Narnia and may make a more logical start for Netflix to kickstart the universe with.
You can hear more on a discussion from the Narniaweb podcast below where they speculate it may make sense to start with Magician’s Nephew this time around.
This would mean Netflix would adapt the books in the so-called “Harper Collins” order which would be the following:
- The Magician’s Nephew
- The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
- The Horse and His Boy
- Prince Caspian
- The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
- The Silver Chair
- The Last Battle.
The guys at Narniaweb also speculated that their adaptations may be slightly darker. They specifically compared them to the Anne with an E series on Netflix which was much darker than the source material it is based on.
In a chat with Georgie Henley in April 2020, who played Lucy in the Disney franchise has said she’d be receptive of featuring in the Netflix reboot but confessed it’s probably unlikely.
What Narnia projects are in development
Thanks to IMDBpro, we’re able to see the first three Netflix projects involving Narnia via Matthew Alrich’s profile. Here are each of the projects and where they’re reportedly in development:
- Untitled Netflix/Chronicles of Narnia Series is reportedly the furthest in development with it entering pre-production reportedly back in October 2018.
- Untitled Netflix/Chronicles of Narnia TV Movie listed in pre-production as of October 2018.
- The Chronicles of Narnia: The Magician’s Nephew (Treatment stage but expected to be an old project)
- The Chronicles of Narnia: The Silver Chair (this is the cancelled final Disney movie and therefore isn’t expected to go ahead)
Other Narnia News
- In January 2020, Narniafans posted that a new documentary was in development surrounding C.S. Lewis.
- In early 2020, several fan-made posters went viral on social media. For many, this was the first time many had heard Netflix is adapting the books.
That’s all we know so far. There’s a lot to be announced, a lot to be excited for and a lot to be learned. We’ll be there every step of the way to see what’s in store for Narnia on Netflix.