Every child’s dream is to find a doorway that leads to an extraordinary and magical place. Just imagine walking through your closet and arriving in a place like Narnia. This idea is why “The Chronicles of Narnia” resonated so well with its audience because, at some point, everyone has dreamt or thought of discovering a magical land.
The Chronicles of Narnia film series is based on The Chronicles of Narnia, a series of novels by C. S. Lewis. From the seven books, three were adapted into films, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (2005), Prince Caspian (2008), and The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (2010), which collectively grossed over $1.5 billion worldwide.
The series revolves around children’s adventures in the world of Narnia, guided by Aslan, a wise and powerful lion that can speak and is the true king of Narnia. The children heavily featured in the films are the Pevensie siblings, and a prominent antagonist is the White Witch, also known as Queen Jadis. Andrew Adamson directed the first two films, and Michael Apted directed the third film. A fourth film was to be directed by Joe Johnston, but it was announced in 2018 that new adaptations of the series would be made for Netflix.
“Chronicles of Narnia” Film Development
During his lifetime, C. S. Lewis never sold the film rights to the Narnia series. He was skeptical that any cinematic adaptation could realistically render the more fantastical elements and characters. After seeing a demo reel of CGI animals, Douglas Gresham, Lewis’s stepson and literary executor, and film co-producer, approved a film adaptation.
Although the plan was originally to produce the films in the same order as the book series’ original publication, it was reported that The Magician’s Nephew, which recounts the creation of Narnia, would be the fourth feature film in the series, instead of The Silver Chair. It was rumored that The Magician’s Nephew was chosen to reboot the series after the release of The Voyage of the Dawn Treader grossed less compared to the two previous films. In March 2011, Walden Media confirmed that they intended The Magician’s Nephew to be next in the series but stressed that it wasn’t developed yet.
In October 2011, Douglas Gresham stated that Walden Media’s contract with the C. S. Lewis estate had expired. This contract expiration hinted that Walden Media’s lapse in renegotiating their contract with the C. S. Lewis estate was due to internal conflicts between both companies about the direction of future films. On October 1, 2013, The C.S. Lewis Company announced a partnership with The Mark Gordon Company, and The Chronicles of Narnia: The Silver Chair was officially in pre-production.
“Chronicles of Narnia” Films in Order
Disney’s live-action The Chronicles of Narnia is the most famous adaptation and brought in an entirely new generation of fans. The reimagining brought the vast scope and visuals needed to enhance the fantastic story. While Disney didn’t adapt all seven of the Narnia books, they introduced the series to a new audience, creating renewed interest in the franchise. Here are the Chronicles of Narnia films in chronological order.
“The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe” (2005).
The first film in the Narnia series follows the first book’s story chronologically. In this film, siblings, Lucy (Georgie Henley), Edmond (Skandar Keynes), Susan (Anna Popplewell), Peter Pevensie (William Moseley), travel to Narnia by way of a magical wardrobe. Once there, they are introduced to all of the incredible things Narnia has to offer, but not everything is as it seems. The children must learn to work together and fight to free Narnia from the power of the Witch Winter (Tilda Swinton), the evil ruler of this mystical land.
Along the way, they meet Mr. Tumnes (James McAvoy), Mr. Beaver (Ray Winstone), Mrs. Beaver (Elizabeth Hawthorne), and the all-power lion, Aslan (Liam Neeson). All characters will help guide them on their journey.
This film introduces the audience to the many themes that will continue to appear in the Narnia franchise. Redemption, forgiveness, and honor are all central ideals you see in the series, and The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe lean heavily into those themes. Aslan and the White Witch embody good and evil, making things very easy for all audiences to follow along.
“The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian” (2008)
The second film in the trilogy is The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian. The Pevensie children return to Narnia only to find that 1,300 years have passed since their adventure during The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe. Once again, war has ravaged Narnia, and the kids have to ally with Prince Caspian in an attempt to liberate the land from the villainous King Miraz.
This film takes place one year after the original film in the human world, but time in Narnia is vastly different than in the real world. Things are bleak, and the children have to realize that the fight won’t be the same as last time. The sequel is a bit more mature in tone, and a lot of the focus shifts to the mysterious yet noble Prince Caspian. Directors also decided to swap out the majority of the supporting cast for new characters, a logical step considering the significant time jump in Narnia. Alongside the Pevensie’s and Prince Caspian is a new supporting cast of characters such as Trumpkin, Nikabrik, Doctor Cornelius, and General Glozelle.
“The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader” (2010)
The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader is the third and final film in the Narnia trilogy. Three years have passed since the events of Prince Caspian. Both Susan and Peter are in America, while Edmond and Lucy stay with their pesky cousin, Eustace Scrubb. With the kids trying to adjust to their new living situation, the three discover a magical painting that takes them to Narnia.
Much to Eustance’s surprise, Narnia is real, and the three reunite with their old friend, Caspian. This time, Caspian is on a quest to find the seven lost Lords of Telmar. With their swords, they’d be able to stop this mysterious green mist that is enslaving the minds and bodies of men. This film is the first not to feature Peter and Susan, and that was enough to change the character dynamic, but with the introduction of Eustace, things feel even more off.
As for the fourth installment of The Chronicles of Narnia series, the production company hasn’t officially announced a release date for the film. In 2013, there was an announcement that the film was in pre-production. Still, there hasn’t been an announcement since then. Hopefully, production and the C.S. Lewis estate can agree and bring the magic of this film series back to life.