Forum

Share:
Notifications
Clear all

Netflix's Narnia to include "big-budget action films"?  

  RSS
The Rose-Tree Dryad
(@rose)
Secret Garden Agent Moderator

The newest tidbit of Narnia news is a quote from a NYT interview with Scott Stuber, Netflix's Head of Original Films. Talking about Netflix's films beyond 2021, he spoke of big-budget action films like Zack Snyder's Army of the Dead and the Russo Brothers' upcoming thriller The Gray Man, before mentioning The Chronicles of Narnia at the very end.

Interesting on a few levels. IMO, this implies that Narnia ranks very high among Netflix's properties, given that the Head of Film is listing Narnia with Army of the Dead (budget of $90 million) and The Gray Man ($200 million, reportedly). Rather strange company for a family-friendly fantasy like Narnia, however, and while I always expected the words "big-budget" in reference to Netflix's Narnia, "action film" seems like quite a stretch. It's hard to imagine either MN or LWW as an "action film" (and indeed, if they tried to make them fit that mold, they would be making a huge misstep, to say the least).

Thoughts?

Twitter: Rose_the_Dryad

Quote
Posted : January 12, 2021 5:08 pm
fantasia liked
Impending Doom
(@impending-doom)
Adventurous Stranger Knight of NarniaWeb

So Netflix hasn't totally forgotten about Narnia then?! Albeit minor, it's good to hear these updates from both Netflix and Mark Gordon. Starting to think we're going to see some real development this year.

As to the actual content of this update, I'm not concerned. I'll reserve judgment until we start seeing some reveals or interviews from Narnia's creative team.

This post was modified 3 months ago by Impending Doom

"Tollers, there is too little of what we really like in stories. I am afraid we shall have to try and write some ourselves." - C.S. Lewis

ReplyQuote
Posted : January 12, 2021 6:53 pm
Courtenay liked
Col Klink
(@col-klink)
NarniaWeb Nut

I think The Last Battle might lend itself reasonably well to a big budget action movie. (Not perfectly, but better than say The Magician's Nephew.) The problem is it'd be at the end of the series. (Or very near it. They could, I suppose, do The Horse and his Boy at the very end but I feel like people would receive it very cynically. "I thought that last Narnia thing was the finale? Man, are they milking this franchise dry!") 

For better or worse-for who knows what may unfold from a chrysalis?-hope was left behind.
-The God Beneath the Sea by Leon Garfield & Edward Blishen

ReplyQuote
Posted : January 12, 2021 8:29 pm
Courtenay liked
Cleander
(@the-mad-poet)
NarniaWeb Junkie

I'm mainly just glad to hear Narnia is still on their minds over there. 

It's still too early to say for sure if the films will really be action-packed adrenaline fests or if that was just Stuber speaking offhand. Either way, there's no way of knowing if "action" will ruin the series or not... until it happens. Action, even a lot of action, can be great if it's creative and properly earned.

...but I wouldn't mind an epic battle here and there. Grin  

PM me to join the Search for the Seven Swords!
Co-founder of the newly restored Edmund Club! Find it on the Talk About Narnia Forum!

signature by aileth

ReplyQuote
Posted : January 12, 2021 10:16 pm
fantasia
(@fantasia)
Member Admin
Posted by: @rose

Thoughts?

If you pay several million dollars for the rights for a property, what else are you going to do with it? Wink It's not what I want personally. I want the movies to honor the books and the focus of the books is not on the battles. But I can't imagine them going any other direction with the feel of these movies. 

ReplyQuote
Posted : January 13, 2021 10:15 am
Courtenay
(@courtenay)
NarniaWeb Guru Friend of NarniaWeb

Hmmm... it's only a casual mention of Narnia, really (like the last snippet we heard), and it doesn't give much away, except that obviously the Netflix Narnia adaptations really ARE still in the pipeline and haven't been forgotten. I've always felt even the Walden film of LWW tried to do too much of a "big-budget action film" look when it came to the huge battle scene in particular, which I felt didn't fit the tone of the book at all. That and the over-dramatic chase scenes when the White Witch is pursuing the children and the Beavers — just too much emphasis on trying to make it more exciting, visually and plot-wise. Whether Netflix will do something similar, or go for quite a different interpretation, we really won't know until we see the final product.

"Now you are a lioness," said Aslan. "And now all Narnia will be renewed."
(Prince Caspian)

ReplyQuote
Posted : January 13, 2021 10:31 am
The Rose-Tree Dryad
(@rose)
Secret Garden Agent Moderator

Like y'all, I've also just been excited that higher ups are talking about Narnia and it does seem like these movies/series are actually going to happen. All December long I kept feeling like we were going to hear some news soon, so I feel a little vindicated. Giggle Granted, I'm still waiting for Big News, either casting or a roadmap, and I'm hoping we'll get that within the next six months or so.

Posted by: @fantasia

If you pay several million dollars for the rights for a property, what else are you going to do with it? Wink

Yeah, I guess so. Sigh I think I've just been subconsciously expecting them to announce a Magician's Nephew movie for so long, the idea of Narnia as an action movie doesn't really compute. I'm not sure how you'd turn MN into an action movie without turning it into a Charn prequel. Although maybe my understanding of the term is too limited...

Posted by: @courtenay

I've always felt even the Walden film of LWW tried to do too much of a "big-budget action film" look when it came to the huge battle scene in particular, which I felt didn't fit the tone of the book at all.

This. One of the reasons I'm really excited about a new adaptation of LWW is because it will be different than the Walden version. If they make all the same mistakes, that would be a big disappointment.

 

 

Twitter: Rose_the_Dryad

ReplyQuote
Posted : January 13, 2021 6:54 pm
Courtenay liked
Courtenay
(@courtenay)
NarniaWeb Guru Friend of NarniaWeb
Posted by: @rose

I think I've just been subconsciously expecting them to announce a Magician's Nephew movie for so long, the idea of Narnia as an action movie doesn't really compute. I'm not sure how you'd turn MN into an action movie without turning it into a Charn prequel. Although maybe my understanding of the term is too limited...

Well, the "action films" wording sounds like it was a bit of a general, throwaway reference as the Netflix chief was listing several upcoming major projects, with Narnia right at the end. It doesn't necessarily mean the Narnia films/serials will be in exactly the same category or genre as Army of the Dead etc. (The mind boggles. Shocked ) Until someone at Netflix gives us a specific explanation of what they intend to do with Narnia, we really won't know what they're thinking. I'm just glad it's been given a couple of tantalising mentions very recently, which means they ARE still working on it!!

As for The Magician's Nephew, I'm sort of thinking they might start with that one too, just so we're not going over old ground for the start of the series. MN has never been adapted for the screen before at all and it will be a totally new story for many (if they haven't read the book) with perhaps some surprises as we discover how Narnia began. And there is one sequence in MN that maybe isn't quite what you'd call "action movie" material, but it is absolutely vital and has GOT to be done in a way that leaves the audience just about breathless with awe — the creation of Narnia by Aslan. If they can nail that... I'm not sure how they're going to do it, but if they get it right, that will definitely pull viewers in and make everyone want to see more of this. At least, that's what I'm hoping...

"Now you are a lioness," said Aslan. "And now all Narnia will be renewed."
(Prince Caspian)

ReplyQuote
Posted : January 14, 2021 2:49 am
icarus
(@icarus)
NarniaWeb Junkie

I wouldn't really read anything into such an off-hand comment, especially since the project doesn't even have a director yet, or any real creative team beyond Matthew Alrdich for that matter. Whilst it's certainly far too early for even Netflix themselves to say what sort of a thing Narnia will be (they haven't even seemed to settle on Movie vs Series yet!) I don't think there is any real risk of Narnia becoming some "big budget action film" in the hands of Netflix.

To start with, take a look at some of Netflix's most popular original TV Series:

  • Stranger Things
  • The Crown
  • House of Cards
  • The Queen's Gambit
  • A Series of Unfortunate Events
  • The Umbrella Academy
  • Locke and Key
  • The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina

I don't think any of them could realistically be described as being "action-oriented". Even for their Marvel Television shows, such as Daredevil and Jessica Jones, they tended to steer much more closely towards human level drama than towards the big budget spectacle that you would normally expect from Marvel superheroes.

In part you can attribute this towards budgets. Even in today's "golden age of television" its still not economically viable to do the sorts of big action set pieces that Hollywood movies would be typically known for. Again, you can look at some of the shows that Netlfix cancelled prematurely, such as the high budget historical epic of Marco Polo - it just wasn't economically viable for them to sustain such a large and lavish production, even with modest viewer numbers.

Also however, I think you can chalk some of it up to priorities. People don't go to Netflix for big budget spectacle. Therefore its never been something they have excessively prioritised. I think if there is one predominant theme across a lot of Netflix's most popular shows, it's the element of "mystery". The streaming service is driven by binge watching. They want you to be always be coming back for more. So again, the Marvel shows on Netflix, such as Daredevil and Jessica Jones tended to revolve around some sort of investigation to unravel a mysterious criminal conspiracy. Stranger Things season 1 revolved around the mysterious disappearance of a young boy, whilst The Umbrella Academy is two seasons deep and yet still hasn't played all its cards with regard to who everyone is, and what everything is about. Ultimately, i believe its about getting you hooked. About keeping you intrigued, and coming back for more. I think that for a lot of the Narnia stories, suspense and mystery is well within their wheel-house to deliver.

Another common thread amongst some of these shows that should also give Narnia fans room for optimism, is that Netflix have not been afraid to go with period settings. The Queen's Gambit for example could easily have been re-shot in a modern-day context without changing the story one bit, however they stuck true to the novel and went with a very sumptuous (and likely expensive!) 80s setting for the entire production. Occasionally the additional budget costs of doing a period production has pushed shows over the edge - the 1970s set detective show Mindhunter (another show reliant on mystery elements to drive the story forward) was recently cancelled after two seasons despite huge critical acclaim because again the modest viewing numbers didn't justify the huge budget.

Overall as a Narnia fan, if I were going to be looking at any show's from the Netflix catalogue against which to benchmark my expectations, it would be Stranger Things and Locke and Key - both mystery-adventure stories about a group of children finding portals to other dimensions. They might lean a bit further into tropes of the "horror" genre (I'm talking PG-rated Scooby Doo "horror" here) than i would expect for Narnia, but they are both in the right sort of ballpark as starting points.

ReplyQuote
Posted : January 17, 2021 6:44 am
Glenwit
(@glenwit)
NarniaWeb Nut

Side point about Stranger Things: even if the style/tone is quite different from what Narnia is going for, I still hope the series can have that same level of character depth and chemistry between the cast. I'm all for some epic battle scenes here and there, but if I had to choose between the two, I'd sacrifice the latter if it means the former is better. 

This is the journey
This is the trial
For the hero inside us all
I can hear adventure call
Here We Go

ReplyQuote
Posted : January 17, 2021 12:55 pm
coracle
(@coracle)
NarniaWeb's Auntie Moderator

New theory: [my own thoughts, and not a conspiracy or plot]

Netflix has told all its staff who make announcements or get interviewed to make sure to mention Narnia somewhere in their comments. The purpose is to keep us happy, or to string us along, or to ensure the public is still interested and further funding can be accessed easily enough.

There, shining in the sunrise, larger than they had seen him before, shaking his mane (for it had apparently grown again) stood Aslan himself.

"...when a willing victim who had committed no treachery was killed in a traitor's stead, the Table would crack and Death itself would start working backwards."

ReplyQuote
Posted : January 18, 2021 6:49 pm
Col Klink
(@col-klink)
NarniaWeb Nut
Posted by: @icarus

People don't go to Netflix for big budget spectacle. Therefore its never been something they have excessively prioritised. I think if there is one predominant theme across a lot of Netflix's most popular shows, it's the element of "mystery".

 

Honestly, I think this would or will be more of an adaptation problem than turning the stories into big budget action movies. In fact, I'm going to risk my reputation by saying that I don't think Narnia being adapted into action movies is the worst possible thing. (It's definitely not the best thing, but looking at it as "reason and nature would have it, not as passion would paint it," it's not the worst thing either.) All of the books have at least one action scene, even The Magician's Nephew, which the prospect of seeing turned into an action movie makes me cringe the hardest. The Silver Chair and The Horse and his Boy are lousy with them and many of them would realistically require a big budget. Mind you, they don't have the kind of action that big budget action movies rely on. (Suspense movies would be a better idea.) But it's not totally out of line to turn them into action stories. I mean, hey, it beats turning them into romances.

And it really beats turning them into mysteries. The only one I can think of that would lend itself to that kind of suspense would be The Voyage of the Dawn Treader with the unknown fate of the seven lords. And since most of them had completely different fates, it wouldn't really work as a driving question. I guess The Horse and his Boy has the mystery of Shasta's parentage but the introduction of Corin makes that pretty obvious. In The Last Battle, Lewis actually avoids a plot driving question by showing us Shift's machinations in the first chapter. Besides which, any mystery that comes from the books can be easily solved by fans reading the books while waiting for the next episode. To make their Narnia adaptations fit in with their other shows, Netflix is going to have to pretty much completely change the stories.

For better or worse-for who knows what may unfold from a chrysalis?-hope was left behind.
-The God Beneath the Sea by Leon Garfield & Edward Blishen

ReplyQuote
Posted : January 20, 2021 9:17 am
The Rose-Tree Dryad
(@rose)
Secret Garden Agent Moderator

@icarus @col-klink I think that The Chronicles of Narnia do have a mystery of sorts: who, and what, is Aslan? Why are the children brought to Narnia? What is the endgame?

Very few stories have God as a character and this presents a lot of interesting possibilities and (imo) tension and suspense. If they can let Aslan be Aslan and not try to turn him into Obi-wan Kenobi or Gandalf, I think that in and of itself functions as a mystery element to the series. (And while Aslan = Jesus is fairly well known, I think the not-safe-but-good character as presented in the books greatly challenges a lot of the popular, watered-down conceptions of Jesus.)

Posted by: @icarus

I don't think there is any real risk of Narnia becoming some "big budget action film" in the hands of Netflix.

Your post is a really good breakdown of Netflix's successful series, but for what it's worth, it looks like about half of their most successful films have been big budget action movies. (ETA: in the case of some of them, biggish budget. What qualifies as big budget these days? Giggle )

Twitter: Rose_the_Dryad

ReplyQuote
Posted : January 20, 2021 8:30 pm
icarus
(@icarus)
NarniaWeb Junkie
Posted by: @rose

 

Your post is a really good breakdown of Netflix's successful series, but for what it's worth, it looks like about half of their most successful films have been big budget action movies. (ETA: in the case of some of them, biggish budget. What qualifies as big budget these days? Giggle )

 

Ah yes, I had forgotten about some of those films. I guess that whilst not everything that Netflix does has to be part of some big corporate strategy, there does appear to be a few familiar themes in their movie portfolio. There's the "get a big name director to make whatever he wants with the hope of winning an Oscar" films such as The Irishman (Martin Scorsese), Roma (Alfonso Curaron), The Two Popes (Fernando Meirelles), The Midnight Sky (George Clooney), etc. and then there is the modestly budgeted action movie with a big name star attached - a Chris Hemsworth, Ryan Reynolds, Mark Whalberg, etc. Someone with enough star power to drive subscription numbers, regardless of the movie's quality. I guess there is also the "any old cheap and easy thing to make in order to bulk out our catalogue" set of movies like the "A Christmas Prince" but I think we will all very much be hoping Narnia doesn't end up in that bucket.

As you say, the budgets on these things are big-ish, but even relative to something like the Walden Narnia movies, they are on the smaller end of the scale. A lot of the action films tend to follow the "John Wick" sort of mold - predominantly set in the real world, gun fights, car chases - relatively simple stuff to pull off. I very rarely see Netflix do anything such as a Narnia movie would likely require, such as extensive CGI landscapes, large scale outdoor location filming, fully CGI and CGI augmented characters, customised costumes, purpose-built sets, large numbers of extras, etc. etc. I think the closest i've seen is Marco Polo, but as discussed that got cancelled after two seasons for being too expensive. Even the historical films they've done such as The King (based on Henry V) or Outlaw King (based on Robert the Bruce) have been plainer character based affairs which have taken advantage of real life castles, and extensive pre-existing costume departments for those sorts of periods, in order to keep budgets down.

All of that said though, I guess there is no reason for us to assume that any Netflix Narnia film will necessarily fit into a pre-existing corporate strategy - it could just as easily be the start of a brand-new corporate strategy for them.

However, my money would still be on Netflix taking Narnia down the TV route, since it seems like a logical counter move to Amazon's Lord of the Rings Series, and HBO's Dark Materials Series. Also, as discussed before, given that Stranger Things is one of the most popular series they've ever had, it seems like Narnia could be pitched into the same sort of category. Its worth noting that Locke & Key, which as I've said fits into the same sort of "group of kids discover mysterious portals to other realms" genre along with Stranger Things, goes out of its way to explicitly reference The Chronicles of Narnia in its second episode. It feels like the show felt the need to essentially say to the audience "yeah we get it, this is exactly like that bit in the Lion The Witch and the Wardrobe" in the hopes that people would then get over it and wont further dwell on the similarities.

I also don't think it would be all that difficult or all that problematic to add a greater sense of mystery and intrigue to the plot of most of the Narnia stories (mystery in the general sense, not a full on JJ Abrams style "Mystery Box" narrative) in order to make the shows fit with that sort of highly bingeable episode-to-episode journey of discovery - to some extent it just depends on where you put your episode breaks, and potentially holding off on revealing certain pieces of information until later down the line in order to keep audiences gripped.

 

ReplyQuote
Posted : January 21, 2021 7:51 am
Col Klink
(@col-klink)
NarniaWeb Nut
Posted by: @icarus

I guess that whilst not everything that Netflix does has to be part of some big corporate strategy, there does appear to be a few familiar themes in their movie portfolio. There's the "get a big name director to make whatever he wants with the hope of winning an Oscar" films such as The Irishman (Martin Scorsese), Roma (Alfonso Curaron), The Two Popes (Fernando Meirelles), The Midnight Sky (George Clooney), etc. and then there is the modestly budgeted action movie with a big name star attached - a Chris Hemsworth, Ryan Reynolds, Mark Whalberg, etc. Someone with enough star power to drive subscription numbers, regardless of the movie's quality. I guess there is also the "any old cheap and easy thing to make in order to bulk out our catalogue" set of movies like the "A Christmas Prince" but I think we will all very much be hoping Narnia doesn't end up in that bucket.

 

I'm sorry to be such a marshwiggle but I'm really not feeling like any of these routes would be good for Narnia. Something generic but guaranteed to make money is obviously unappealing. And a director with a strong sense of style and a personal vision would want to make something original, not a faithful adaptation of the Narnia books. Again, I'm sorry if I'm bringing people down but I see little reason at this point to expect a Netflix Narnia adaptation to better than the Walden Media ones. (Well, it might be better than the Voyage of the Dawn Treader movie. Giggle )

For better or worse-for who knows what may unfold from a chrysalis?-hope was left behind.
-The God Beneath the Sea by Leon Garfield & Edward Blishen

ReplyQuote
Posted : January 21, 2021 8:28 am
Share: