Further up and further in!
With the current leader in fantasy based TV, 'Game of Thrones' on HBO, ending next year, other networks and services are now scrambling to be the one to fill the position. Amazon has acquired the rights to the 'Lord of the Rings' property, and will be bringing "previously untold stories" to the small screen in the next couple of years. And now, Netflix has announced it has its own adaptation of a beloved series of books already in the pipeline.
The streaming service has detailed plans for a multiyear deal to produce both TV series AND films based on The Chronicles of Narnia novels, written by author C.S. Lewis. Published in the 1950s, the first adaptations came to UK channel ITV in the late '60s, but the most well known TV version was produced by the BBC between 1988 and 1990. The first four books (in publication terms) were made into 3 series, with 'Caspian' and 'Dawn Treader' comprising one series.
Most recently, the first three novels were made into major films, released between 2005 and 2010, but failed to capitalise on the billion dollar cinema returns that The Lord of the Rings films had garnered. Despite rumours of 'The Silver Chair' being made into a fourth film, it has now been nearly a decade with no movement. The deal with Netflix has probably reduced the chances of production to nil. The deal is also the first time that the rights to all books have been held by the same company at the same time.
"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," said author C.S. Lewis' stepson, Douglas Gresham. "Netflix seems to be the very best medium with which to achieve this aim, and I am looking forward to working with them towards this goal."
There is no word how the breakdown of series and films will occur, or if, like Amazon, they are able to write new stories based in the same universe. The Chronicles books though, are an odd mix. The standard four that have already been worked into TV and film follow a (baring time jumps) similar narrative, but 'The Magicians Nephew' (which retroactively became the first book in the series) is tonally distinct and without any of the main characters that people have come to love over the years. The same is true with "The Horse and His Boy" (which happens to be my favourite of the seven books); while it is set during-ish the events of 'The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe', it stands very much alone in setting, pace and tone. The final book, 'The Last Battle', tries to link all the previous stories together, but how this translates to the viewers remains to be seen.
"C. S. Lewis' beloved Chronicles of Narnia stories have resonated with generations of readers around the world," said Ted Sarandos, the Chief Content Officer at Netflix. "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."