Netflix's Narnia to include "big-budget action films"?
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).
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.
"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
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.
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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.
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If you pay several million dollars for the rights for a property, what else are you going to do with it? 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.
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."
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. 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.
If you pay several million dollars for the rights for a property, what else are you going to do with it?
Yeah, I guess so. 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...
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.
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. ) 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."
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.
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.
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This is the trial
For the hero inside us all
I can hear adventure call