Netflix to take Narnia to the small screen

 On Oct. 3, Netflix announced that it acquired the rights to the Narnia series with the intention of creating a series of films or possibly a television program. (narnia.com)

On Oct. 3, Netflix announced that it acquired the rights to the Narnia series with the intention of creating a series of films or possibly a television program. (narnia.com)

Since the publication of its first installment 58 years ago, “The Chronicles of Narnia” remains one of the most iconic series in literary history. It has been the subject of numerous adaptations, including an animated film in 1979, a live-action television series in the 80s and a popular series of films (the last of which was released only eight years ago).

The books have also been made into various other television programs, radio plays, stage shows, albums and video games. Clearly this is a franchise which audiences continue to support and show interest in time and again.

On Oct. 3, Netflix announced that it acquired the rights to the Narnia series with the intention of creating a series of films or possibly a television program. What sets this apart from past adaptations is that this will be the first time the rights to the entire series will be held by a production company. In the past, adaptations have covered the stories of only a select few books or taken the books on one at a time. Here, it seems that Netflix has a much grander vision planned.

If Netflix does in fact choose to adapt the entire series, this will make the first on-screen adaptations of “The Horse and His Boy,” “The Magician’s Nephew” and “The Last Battle.” Previously, studios have passed on tackling these stories, most likely considering them too difficult to adapt due to the bizarre imagery and subject matter contained in them, so it will be extremely interesting to see the direction with which Netflix takes them.

The timing of this deal seems fairly obvious from a business perspective. HBO has announced that next year’s season of their epic fantasy smash hit “Game of Thrones” will be the show’s last. Adapted from George R. R. Martin’s ongoing series of novels, the show was a phenomenon, taking the world by storm for the past seven years.

While HBO has announced plans for multiple spin-offs to cash in on the popularity of the franchise, those will not be released for a few years, as development on those programs has to wait until the main show is finished. With “Thrones” off the air, other studios are jumping in to try and fill the void left in its wake.

The biggest announcement yet came from Amazon Studios last year, when they announced their deal with the Tolkien Estate to create a “Lord of the Rings” television series set before the events of “The Fellowship of the Ring.” The rumors that many of the same people involved in the creation of the “Lord of the Rings” films will be working on the Amazon series led to further excitement amongst fans. The deal was massive, costing Amazon approximately $500 million dollars.

With Amazon’s new series in mind, it’s no surprise that Netflix would choose Narnia as its flagship in the fantasy genre. It is no secret that J. R. R. Tolkien (the creator of “The Lord of the Rings”) and C. S. Lewis (the creator of “The Chronicles of Narnia”) were close friends, and that Lewis received inspiration from Tolkien in both the fantasy and religious elements present in the Narnia series. Narnia also has a huge following behind it, making it a worthy adversary to Amazon’s foray into Tolkien.

If anything, the battle between these two shows will decide the power of streaming services going forward. Netflix and Amazon Prime have already created a few huge hits, including Netflix’s “The Crown” and “Stranger Things,” and Amazon’s “Man in the High Castle,” but no matter how high the production values, they were always limited by their status as television programs. With the amount of money and resources being pushed into these new shows, audiences will be able to decide whether streaming services are serious competition against cable television and film.


Evan Burns is campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at evan.burns@uconn.edu.