C.S. Lewis's Chronicles of Narnia are among the most successful fantasy series of all time, exploring the journey of a group of siblings who discover a magical land hiding behind their cupboard leading them to all sorts of adventures. Recently, Netflix bought the rights to the series in a multi-year deal. In an interview, Lewis's stepson Douglas Gresham, who also produced the mid-2000s Narnia movie adaptations, expressed a hope that this time around, audiences will get to see an entire digital TV show based on the series:
"(I would) love it to be an episodic thing. Because with a movie, you have an hour, maybe two hour maximum if you really stretch it, to put an entire book - an adventure storybook - into the film. "And you just can't do it... The entire book, every single nuance of it, on the screen."
The Chronicles of Narnia movie adaptations were a moderate success, although never quite managing a Harry Potter level of frenzy among audiences. After the two sequels got increasingly diminishing returns at the box office, the series was discontinued to await a rethinking of strategy by the producers, one of whom was Gresham. That was when Netflix swooped in with their offer. But now, the streaming giant appears to be dragging their feet about moving forward with their adaptations, as Gresham went on to explain:
"I have not heard a word from them. I'm kind of getting worried myself as to whether anything's ever going to happen."
This anxiety has become a part of virtually every film and shows production on the planet right now, with the lockdown threatening to destroy the infrastructure of the entertainment industry due to the newly minted rules of social distancing that are going to stick around for the near future.
The Narnia series is just one of the many books and comics that Netflix has bought the rights to, in addition to commissioning new works with the express purpose of adapting them once they have proven their popularity in the market. With a franchise as well-known as C.S. Lewis's creations, it is only a matter of time until a fresh adaptation is released.
Gresham's express desire for a series instead of a movie shows how streaming has affected the entertainment industry. There was a time when getting a movie made about a book was considered the highest honor, with a TV adaptation a distant second choice.
But HBO's Game of Thrones, with its giant budget and detailed exploration of the book series it was adapted from, proved to be a game-changer. Now authors are seeing the value of a polished serial adaptation of their books, especially for longer novels which can be difficult to condense into a two-hour feature without sacrificing massive amounts of the text.
Hopefully, Netflix will move forward soon enough with the new live-action adaptation of Narnia to enthrall a new generation of fans.