Why Magician’s Nephew will be the next Narnia movie

Well, the Voyage of the Dawn Treader movie didn’t do so well, even worse than Prince Caspian.  Still, as we blogged about earlier, Walden Media is forging ahead with The Magician’s Nephew.  In an interview with Christianity Today, the head of that studio explains why:

The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe opened in December 2005 to a massive audience, earning more than $1 billion in box office ($745 million) and DVD sales ($332 million) combined. Critical reviews were good (76 percent positive at Rotten Tomatoes), and the franchise was off to a great start.

But then came the next two films—2008′s Prince Caspian and 2010′s Voyage of the Dawn Treader. Caspian brought in less than half of the domestic box office that LWW had drawn, and VDT only about a third as much. Critical ratings at Rotten Tomatoes dropped from 76 percent positive for LWW to 67 percent for PC to a tepid 50 percent for VDT, which releases to DVD and Blu-Ray this week

With the dropping numbers, we asked Flaherty if the franchise was in trouble, and if not, which of the Chronicles would be the next film? The Silver Chair comes next in the sequence of books, but Flaherty said Walden and 20th Century Fox, which distributes the movies, have mostly decided on The Magician’s Nephew—Narnia’s “origins story”—for their next project. (Narnia scholar Devin Brown says Lewis himself would agree with that choice; see his reasons here.)

Why do The Magician’s Nephew next?

It’s a creative decision in terms of what story we felt has the best opportunity to draw the largest audience. The box office has pretty closely followed the sales pattern of the books.

Prince Caspian sells about half of the books of Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe, and it did about half of the box office. Caspian sells about a third more books than Dawn Treader, and it did about a third more box office. That pattern continues to decline with Silver Chair being the weakest book in the series in terms of consumer demand.

We just think the origin tale of The Magician’s Nephew is a great one, and it brings back the characters that have proven to be the most popular—a lot of Aslan and the White Witch. It explains the origin of the lamppost and the wardrobe. The order of these books is something that few people agree on anyway. While Silver Chair certainly continues Eustace’s adventure, we never knew when Magician’s Nephew would come in the sequence of films. We never assumed it would be last, and we never assumed it would be first.

A lot of people say The Magician’s Nephew is their favorite.

In book sales, it is right behind The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe. If you look at the superhero stories or any great franchise in recent years, they all have an origin story. We’ve yet to make our origin story. But rather than lead with Magician’s Nephew, we’re following Lewis’s lead on this—that it’s a lot more interesting if you’ve been teased with these things, like the wardrobe, rather than explain it right up front. Once people are familiar with the lamppost, the wardrobe, Narnia, and Aslan, Magician’s Nephew is a lot more powerful, to go back and explain where all of this came from.

via The Lion, the Witch, and the Box Office | Movies & TV | Christianity Today.

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • Greg Smith

    This doesn’t answer the real question in my mind. How old will the “Eustace” actor be when they get around to The Silver Chair? He will be too old to play the Eustace who comes back to Narina.

    I had always hoped they would do Chair next then follow it with Nephew and The Horse and His Boy before finishing up with The Last Battle. The order seemed logical to me. It would give the Pevensie kids time to grow up to play their adult roles in The Horse and His Boy.

  • Greg Smith

    This doesn’t answer the real question in my mind. How old will the “Eustace” actor be when they get around to The Silver Chair? He will be too old to play the Eustace who comes back to Narina.

    I had always hoped they would do Chair next then follow it with Nephew and The Horse and His Boy before finishing up with The Last Battle. The order seemed logical to me. It would give the Pevensie kids time to grow up to play their adult roles in The Horse and His Boy.

  • http://enterthevein.wordpress.com J. Dean

    Part of the problem with Dawn Treader was that they changed the plot up a bit, and it took a weird left turn in spots (although I have to admit that I did like that map).

  • http://enterthevein.wordpress.com J. Dean

    Part of the problem with Dawn Treader was that they changed the plot up a bit, and it took a weird left turn in spots (although I have to admit that I did like that map).

  • Larry Wright

    One of the challenges for me was the twist that the character voice of Aslan tried to be the interpretive voice of Lewis. It was certainly transformational attempting to make the movie theme “spiritual” against the grain of the author’s intent. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see if Aslan gets his true voice back.

    That said, I have enjoyed the book(s) and have enjoyed the movies so far.

  • Larry Wright

    One of the challenges for me was the twist that the character voice of Aslan tried to be the interpretive voice of Lewis. It was certainly transformational attempting to make the movie theme “spiritual” against the grain of the author’s intent. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see if Aslan gets his true voice back.

    That said, I have enjoyed the book(s) and have enjoyed the movies so far.

  • http://www.redeemedrambling.blogspot.com/ John

    Dear Walden Media:
    How would you like it if we took your mother, dressed her up as Lady Gaga and paraded her in front of the world? Well, many of us feel that that is what you are doing to Narnia. Please just go away, or take up His Dark Materials or something…

  • http://www.redeemedrambling.blogspot.com/ John

    Dear Walden Media:
    How would you like it if we took your mother, dressed her up as Lady Gaga and paraded her in front of the world? Well, many of us feel that that is what you are doing to Narnia. Please just go away, or take up His Dark Materials or something…

  • http://matthaeusglyptes.blogspot.com Matthew Carver

    Interesting…so now, after three movies, we have learned that a movie’s success is all based on which books consumers buy the most. That must be quite a relief to the know-better writers who feel compelled to alter the stories to make them more enticing and manageable for their putative lowest-common-denominator moviegoer, and to the producer and director who no longer feels compelled to oversee to the minutest detail the work of the production, since a greater amount of labor will not necessarily result in a greater sucess. How consoling to its makers when faced with criticism and self-doubt concerning the quality and artfulness of their lack-luster production. And what magnanimity on the part of the executive producers, etc., what noble principle, to help to realize even those films which, we are assured, will be less successful, not because of their merit but because of the merit of their source, all for the sake of sustaining the greater artwork as an integrated whole.

  • http://matthaeusglyptes.blogspot.com Matthew Carver

    Interesting…so now, after three movies, we have learned that a movie’s success is all based on which books consumers buy the most. That must be quite a relief to the know-better writers who feel compelled to alter the stories to make them more enticing and manageable for their putative lowest-common-denominator moviegoer, and to the producer and director who no longer feels compelled to oversee to the minutest detail the work of the production, since a greater amount of labor will not necessarily result in a greater sucess. How consoling to its makers when faced with criticism and self-doubt concerning the quality and artfulness of their lack-luster production. And what magnanimity on the part of the executive producers, etc., what noble principle, to help to realize even those films which, we are assured, will be less successful, not because of their merit but because of the merit of their source, all for the sake of sustaining the greater artwork as an integrated whole.

  • jeff

    They need to take the plunge- fillm both at the same time. Open magician in december and the silver chair in summer. The greatest problem is the great delay between films. Look at lotr franchise. Needs to be close. The bank is worth the risk.

  • jeff

    They need to take the plunge- fillm both at the same time. Open magician in december and the silver chair in summer. The greatest problem is the great delay between films. Look at lotr franchise. Needs to be close. The bank is worth the risk.

  • David

    I agree with Greg Smith: choosing not to do Silver Chair next will make the actor who played Eustace WAY too old to play him again. Silver Chair is supposed to happen fairly quickly in the book timeline after Voyage, but it’s going to be a good three or four years before they potentially get around to starting on Silver Chair, and he will be college age by then.

    Secondly, why break the flow of what they have going? So far, they have the Pevensies in LWW and PC, and then the two younger ones plus Eustace in Voyage. By doing MN, they introduce two brand new characters (Diggory and Polly) and then have to reintroduce Eustace (and add Jill) when they get around to doing Silver Chair.

    All in all, while I do like Magician’s Nephew a lot more than the Silver Chair, I am not thrilled that they are trying to destroy the movie series even further by doing the movies in what I feel is the wrong order.

    Oh well… at least the first movie was fairly true to the book.

  • David

    I agree with Greg Smith: choosing not to do Silver Chair next will make the actor who played Eustace WAY too old to play him again. Silver Chair is supposed to happen fairly quickly in the book timeline after Voyage, but it’s going to be a good three or four years before they potentially get around to starting on Silver Chair, and he will be college age by then.

    Secondly, why break the flow of what they have going? So far, they have the Pevensies in LWW and PC, and then the two younger ones plus Eustace in Voyage. By doing MN, they introduce two brand new characters (Diggory and Polly) and then have to reintroduce Eustace (and add Jill) when they get around to doing Silver Chair.

    All in all, while I do like Magician’s Nephew a lot more than the Silver Chair, I am not thrilled that they are trying to destroy the movie series even further by doing the movies in what I feel is the wrong order.

    Oh well… at least the first movie was fairly true to the book.

  • mark catlin

    (Tired of waiting). When you are negotiating with the C. S. Lewis estate please negotiate for two books for the movies. That way the process for making the movies can go faster. So the public doesn’t have to waite 3 or 4 years for just one movie. ( To Long ). Pass this letter along to the studio who are making these movies. THANKS

  • mark catlin

    (Tired of waiting). When you are negotiating with the C. S. Lewis estate please negotiate for two books for the movies. That way the process for making the movies can go faster. So the public doesn’t have to waite 3 or 4 years for just one movie. ( To Long ). Pass this letter along to the studio who are making these movies. THANKS

  • Mama2boys

    I grew up on the books and the old movies and my little boys LOVE the new series. I do agree that for character continuity its a pity they won’t do The Silver Chair next but regardless I’m really glad they’re continuing to make the movies as they are a solid story with good values combining adventure, magic and fun that appeals to small people (and big) without going over the top.

  • Mama2boys

    I grew up on the books and the old movies and my little boys LOVE the new series. I do agree that for character continuity its a pity they won’t do The Silver Chair next but regardless I’m really glad they’re continuing to make the movies as they are a solid story with good values combining adventure, magic and fun that appeals to small people (and big) without going over the top.

  • Lily Porter

    I read the book, and I think it will make a great movie!!!

  • Lily Porter

    I read the book, and I think it will make a great movie!!!

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  • http://google anna

    Well prince caspian was my favorite by far when I first saw the lion witch and the wardrobe I hated it but when I got older I loved it I watched it all the time and ill admit I cried at the end of prince caspian and voyage of the dawn treader and I hated Eusticecs character and I think that’s why the numbers decrees people watch for the same 4 kids or teens now the pevensies kids there the ones that kept me watching and the numbers decrees as they leave I hope they make the last battle into a movie and bring all of the pevensies kids back even Susan they changed the movies before so Wht not this time.

  • http://google anna

    Well prince caspian was my favorite by far when I first saw the lion witch and the wardrobe I hated it but when I got older I loved it I watched it all the time and ill admit I cried at the end of prince caspian and voyage of the dawn treader and I hated Eusticecs character and I think that’s why the numbers decrees people watch for the same 4 kids or teens now the pevensies kids there the ones that kept me watching and the numbers decrees as they leave I hope they make the last battle into a movie and bring all of the pevensies kids back even Susan they changed the movies before so Wht not this time.

  • http://google anna

    Also does anyone know why they started a thing between caspian and Susan I loved it they were so cute but they just got my hopes up for the following movie when it was over between them I hope they bring Susan and her siblings back and her and caspian can be togeather.

  • http://google anna

    Also does anyone know why they started a thing between caspian and Susan I loved it they were so cute but they just got my hopes up for the following movie when it was over between them I hope they bring Susan and her siblings back and her and caspian can be togeather.

  • http://google nicole

    I think if they do another movie and caspians to old they can use the kid who plays beck on victorious my little cousin watches the show and I saw it once and I think caspian and him look alike and I agree with Anna^ also about bringing back the pevensie kids but not Eustice

  • http://google nicole

    I think if they do another movie and caspians to old they can use the kid who plays beck on victorious my little cousin watches the show and I saw it once and I think caspian and him look alike and I agree with Anna^ also about bringing back the pevensie kids but not Eustice

  • Kylee

    We readers are fans of the books. If the movie deviates too much from the book, it’s no surprise that the movie won’t generate expected sales. If the story on film is twisted up, it’s not a film adaption of the book anymore, and you lose points with us readers. We want to see how film can make the abstract images we had when we read the books to something very real and concrete.

  • Kylee

    We readers are fans of the books. If the movie deviates too much from the book, it’s no surprise that the movie won’t generate expected sales. If the story on film is twisted up, it’s not a film adaption of the book anymore, and you lose points with us readers. We want to see how film can make the abstract images we had when we read the books to something very real and concrete.

  • kim

    ok i love narnia and i always will and i think they all did great i cant wait to c the next one!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • kim

    ok i love narnia and i always will and i think they all did great i cant wait to c the next one!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Beth

    Larry Wright, I am confused by your comment of making the movie “spiritual” against the authors intent. That seems funny based on the spiritually allegorical nature of the books themselves. Though he didn’t want direct attention to the allegory drawn for children, he did mean the for the allegory to ‘ring true’ for them when faced with the real story of Jesus.

  • Beth

    Larry Wright, I am confused by your comment of making the movie “spiritual” against the authors intent. That seems funny based on the spiritually allegorical nature of the books themselves. Though he didn’t want direct attention to the allegory drawn for children, he did mean the for the allegory to ‘ring true’ for them when faced with the real story of Jesus.

  • Ramy

    Beth, Thank you so much for responding to Larry’s comment. You are absolutely right. As a matter of fact, all of Lewis’ books, even as far as the Space Trilogy, are allegorical of Biblical situations, with Narnia covering much of the Biblical span, from Creation, to Jesus, to the End of Days. I’m personally excited for this one and for The Last Battle. I think they’ve done a great job so far, even though they’ve deviated off the books a bit. I hope they will be very exacting and specifically matching with the books in the remaining movies. Yeah it stinks that the actors will be a bit off, but at the same time, The Magician’s Nephew would definitely be a better seller and is more interesting overall :) Either way, It’s gonna be great :)

  • Ramy

    Beth, Thank you so much for responding to Larry’s comment. You are absolutely right. As a matter of fact, all of Lewis’ books, even as far as the Space Trilogy, are allegorical of Biblical situations, with Narnia covering much of the Biblical span, from Creation, to Jesus, to the End of Days. I’m personally excited for this one and for The Last Battle. I think they’ve done a great job so far, even though they’ve deviated off the books a bit. I hope they will be very exacting and specifically matching with the books in the remaining movies. Yeah it stinks that the actors will be a bit off, but at the same time, The Magician’s Nephew would definitely be a better seller and is more interesting overall :) Either way, It’s gonna be great :)


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