Under the pact, Netflix, working with Entertainment One, will develop stories from across the Narnia universe into series and films with eOne’s Mark Gordon as well as Douglas Gresham and Vincent Sieber serving as executive producers for series and as producers for features. Netflix is the studio.
The deal marks the first time that rights to the entire seven books of the Narnia universe have been held by the same company.
“C.S. Lewis’ beloved Chronicles of Narnia stories have resonated with generations of readers around the world,” said Ted Sarandos, Chief Content Officer, Netflix. “Families have fallen in love with characters like Aslan and the entire world of Narnia, and we’re thrilled to be their home for years to come.”
In total the Narnia books have sold more than 100 million copies and been translated in more than 47 languages worldwide. Their highest-profile previous adaptation was the series of three Sony movies, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (2005), Prince Caspian (2008) and The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (2010), which combined have grossed over $1.5 billion worldwide.
“It is wonderful to know that folks from all over are looking forward to seeing more of Narnia, and that the advances in production and distribution technology have made it possible for us to make Narnian adventures come to life all over the world,” said Douglas Gresham, stepson of C.S. Lewis. “Netflix seems to be the very best medium with which to achieve this aim, and I am looking forward to working with them towards this goal.”
With the deal, Netflix is looking to build a Narnia cinematic universe that encompasses film and TV in the vein of Star Trek and Marvel, whose franchises cross over between mediums. The idea originated with eOne and its president and chief content officer for film and TV, Gordon. Via his Mark Gordon Co, he had made a deal with the C. S. Lewis Company in 2013 for a fourth Narnia feature. Following the MGC’s acquisition by eOne, it was announced in 2016 that Sony and eOne would finance and distribute the feature. Instead, Gordon and chief eOne strategy officer Peter Micelli felt there was a bigger opportunity in building a film-TV Narnia universe. They got The C.S. Lewis Company on board and took the package, accompanied by an elaborate vision presentation, to the marketplace, eventually landing at Netflix. (Sony is not involved in the project.)
“Narnia is one of those rare properties that spans multiple generations and geographies,” said Gordon. “eOne and I are excited to be collaborating with The C.S. Lewis Company and Netflix who have the capacity to translate the Narnia universe into both stellar feature-length and episodic programming. We cannot wait to get started on the multiple productions we hope to undertake.”
With The Chronicles of Narnia Netflix is getting a major fantasy franchise as rival Amazon has been bulking up in the genre, including ordering a high-profile Lord of the Rings TV series in a mega deal with the J.R.R. Tolkien estate.