Michael Apted Voices Concern Over Narnia’s Future

Michael Apted made a statement which is sure to prove controversial amongst Narnia fans. He says:

“I would be surprised if they did all seven books. I suppose the fourth one might work better now after the changes we made in the third… but after that it goes haywire.

“With a franchise, the continuity of characters is actually quite crucial and I don’t know how they are going get beyond book four. I think it is a problem.”

(The full interview is available here)

On one hand, I understand where he’s coming from. Unlike Harry Potter, Twilight, Lord of the Rings, and essentially every other popular book series out there except Narnia, there is a common set of characters that is carried throughout the whole story. That doesn’t happen with Narnia. In every book, there are different characters. Even from The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe to The Silver Chair, while a few main characters carry over, almost all of the secondary characters are new.

I would suspect from a movie marketing standpoint this is a nightmare to have to remind people who aren’t familiar with the series that “Hey! This is Narnia again!” And I suspect that’s why we keep seeing the White Witch, Peter, and Susan popping up on The Voyage of the Dawn Treader ads.

That being said, in this Narnia fan’s opinion the uniqueness of each book is precisely one of the strengths of the series and sets it apart from any other franchise. Sure we say goodbye to the Pevensies for a while, but we get Jill Pole and Puddleglum, Shasta and Aravis, Digory and Polly, Tirian and Jewel!

I would like to offer one piece of advice to the filmmakers (not that I have any sort of credentials in which to do so). Do not look at The Chronicles of Narnia as a series or franchise per se because then you will spend all of your time trying to come up with ways to tie them together. Rather, look at them as seven individual chronicles that just happen to take place in the same world, and embrace each story for their individual strengths! No other fantasy series out there that I know of can do that.

Thanks to Kate and aslanismyman for the link!

UPDATE: The link above now has the full story instead of highlights. Thanks Sammie!

167 Responses

  1. Puzzle2005 says:

    Apted must've made these comments based on his years of experience as a director/producer and as industry leader (he was a DGA President) who knows the joys and pain of the moviemaking business. And with his stint in VODT (which,as everybody knows,went through rough sailing,pun intended!)I guess what he was simply trying to say is that any future endeavour to make the rest of the books will have to contend with most of the problems he encountered while doing VODT.
    The Narnia movies released so far were admittedly well-crafted and commercially successful, but didn't get enough critical praise similar to the LOTR films and not as popular in contemporary culture as Harry Potter. In fact, the common perception for the Narnia films is as second-tier, copycat attempts to repeat the success of the above-mentioned series.
    It is also worth mentioning that at least two of the later books in the series might pose some problems with today's audiences who will take issue with the "politically-incorrect" contents of (in particular) HHB and LB. Incidentally,the last book is my favourite but I wonder if it will ever get realised on a movie screen, given its very gloomy mood and as a really difficult book over-all.

  2. I totally agree with what you said Fantasia! And plus, the others have never been adapted, so they just HAVE to make a movie out of them, especially The Last Battle!!!

  3. GlimGlum says:

    Good analysis to follow, Watchful Admin. 😀

  4. Movie Aristotle says:

    I'm not worried. The rest of the movies will have returning characters. Silver Chair has Eustace. The Horse and His Boy and The Last Battle have the Pevencies again, and The Magician's Nephew has the White Witch, (whom they have been trying very hard to get into the Narnia films). Sure, the entire cast doesn't come back for each film, but that is part of what makes Narnia unique. These films could be masterpieces of artistic achievement if they consider each story seperately.

  5. TumnusTheBrave says:

    im going and im dragging 9 of my friends this weekend

  6. TumnusTheBrave says:

    i think more people would want to see a big battle movie next so i would suggest the last battle but i also think the last battle, if all the books are made into movies, should be made last. VDT still satisfies the viewer because it has small battles in it so i think it will do fine. i would really want them to make the horse and his boy though but i guess making the silver chair makes more sense.

  7. Tanya says:

    I'm getting a little scared that Voyage of the Dawn Treader might not surpass Prince Caspian in ticket sales. I went online to buy my ticket at the Arclight Cinema and they allow people to reserve their seats online and I was the only one for the 1145 am showing this coming sunday. That's not good, but then we have 2 more days to go before the US release, so we have a bit of time to spread the word.

  8. Princess Lucy says:

    You know what …I really love your ideas of adding the pevensies in parts of other films…that is such a smart idea actually….I hope the filmmakers see you comment to help them and give them ideas….WHO ELSE AGREES!!!…LEt the film makers know that theres ways to make this series 😉

  9. Princess Lucy says:

    Hey don't worry guys…we still have the walden company willing to make all seven books and the producer Mark Johnson…if the director finds it difficult to adapt the rest of the series after SC…theres always another one that will pick it up again!!!

  10. narnian says:

    a cuple of month ago i started to anaunce in yoville allot of ppl about the up coming narnia movie and allot of them dint know that another movie was coming and they were really happy, i hope that helps!!!!!! i have faith that narnia will continue. saturday im going with 10 friends to see the movie!!! the movie is awsome i saw ut last sunday and the movie make me cry!!! i looks visualy awsome!!!

  11. gstommylee says:

    I am worried that they won't do the remaining books. I hope they do.

  12. lysander says:

    Not to mention tLB!

  13. David M says:

    I agree with MovieAristotle. Apted is wrong. I believe Dawn Treader will do well, and Silver Chair will be greenlit. The rest of the books have enough continuity to make them marketable. Horse and His Boy has the Pevensies in it. Magician's Nephew is easily marketed as an origin story and it has the White Witch. And once you get past that, Last Battle is simple.

  14. David M says:

    Apted's comments are also bad from a marketing POV. If the director himself isn't confident in the franchise, the audience won't be either and no one will go see the movie. That's assuming people listen to him.

  15. gstommylee says:

    I hope you are right and SC is green lighted and the rest are done.

  16. gstommylee says:

    Perhaps the franchise need a different director for SC then.

  17. Edmund2010 says:

    I really hope that this franchise can keep going, though I totally see the sense in what is being said here!

  18. sachin says:

    No Problem Kick Evil English Apted Out And Bring Some Noble American Or Kiwi Director In

  19. Pepper Darcy says:

    good! So more people than just me would like an emotion-driven climax! *awesome*! 🙂

  20. samuel says:

    @nic: Agreed completely. And I always thought that prince caspian is one of the 'darker' books in the series anyway. And I know I'll get into hot water for saying this, but I always the "magical party" of Aslan was just weird and was glad they didn't try to reproduce it in the film. as far as darkness goes Last Battle is next, and Silver Chair I would say is the Darkest.

  21. samuel says:

    Yes I think it would be cool if Professor Digory Kirk Narrated the story. Perhaps the Pevensies are at his house talking about narnia and then Digory tells them all how he knew Narnia before any of them… ooh there's an Idea for continuity. What if the MN, and LB, were actually a two part story? the first part beginning with all the "friends of Narnia" Gathering together then Digory and Polly telling their story to the group they could be asked to "tell it again", and then ending with Tirian Appearing to them in the vision, and them boarding the train. The Next movie would then begin with Tirian and Jewel, and of course the Ape. Hmm, that's the way I might do it if I were in charge at least

  22. Samuel the Magnificent says:

    I hope Eustace is really really likeable, because the rest of the SEQUAlS (not prequals) ride on his character.

  23. Sammie says:

    Oh, wow, 20 to 50! I figured there was a lot, but never that many. I thought it was a glitch on my end.

  24. Hey it shouldn't be because he is English! Not sure if you remember but C.S Lewis was English! Anyway don't like him either.

  25. Heidi says:

    Sachin – as a (dual) American/British national (my husband is English and my son, as I am, is dual American/British), I'd just like to remind you that the Chronicles of Narnia were written by an "Evil" English author. I find your remark really offensive, actually, and hope that it was meant in a humorous way that just isn't translating well into text.

  26. P.s Next time think before you post because it was written by an ENGLISH man in ENGLAND featuring the war declared by ENGLAND and is a very ENGLISH tale with ENGLISH people! And I don't think it should be to do with England or America its the type of person he is not where he comes from.

  27. I agree! Proud to be British!

  28. narniafreak13 says:

    I really hope they do too. It would be horrible if they didn't try to finish out the series! I'm going to see the movie on Saturday, and I'm sooooo excited. I have to stop reading all the reviews and ruining the movie for myself, but it's sooo hard!

  29. francienyc says:

    Evil English…I didn't realize we had gone back in time to 1776…

  30. francienyc says:

    Some astute observations I think. The lack of recurring characters is actually one of my major problems with the series. I love the Chronicles of Narnia, I do, but it's hard for me to let go of the Pevensies and Caspian and I consider myself a pretty die hard fan.

    I think the biggest problem with LB is the Narnian apocalypse. Fantasy fiction has the allure of a world where everything can be different, where good will triumph, and it's supposed to be a world we can always go back to. To kill off Narnia, even to resurrect it in the 'real' version, makes for a really difficult movie. Heck, even Lucy cries at the loss of Narnia.

  31. Moonwood says:

    I completely agree that was a very rude and ignorant statement against english people ( I am french ) And I do not think Americans, sachin, have a better rep regarding book adaptations.
    AND by the way, C S LEWIS WAS IRISH

  32. Moonwood says:

    'I would have laughed out loud, but I feared my head would come off '

  33. Moonwood says:

    I completely agree that was a very rude and ignorant statement against english people ( I am french ) And I do not think Americans, sachin, have a better rep regarding book adaptations.
    AND by the way, C S LEWIS WAS IRISH
    ‘I would have laughed out loud, but I feared my head would come off ‘

  34. gstommylee says:

    I hope so do. I'm still worried thinking about them not doing the remaining ones.

  35. Jhayma says:

    Why? I have been a fan for over 30 years, and they haven't made a good movie since the first. I'm convinced it's time to give up. You will never get a Christian parable out of these people, and they are rewriting and ruining the greatest works of C.S. Lewis. What a sad waste of the perfect cast and fantastic sets.

  36. Jhayma says:

    I went the dnight opening, and their was only one other person i the theater. After seeing the movie, I wold be surprised if more show up. As far as I'm concerned, the movie "Voyage of the Dawn Treadr" still hasn'tbeen made, and apparently never will be…

  37. Jhayma says:

    The first movie was good, Prince Caspian was a rewritten train wreck, and Dawn Treader is a badly written and incoherent mess. The only thing that is consistent is that the movies are now politically correct. I can't even imagine how this crew would destroy The Last Battle, and I'm sure I never want to see them make it. What a waste of the perfect cast but they should have had faith that the original story would sell, and not worry about offending someone with Christian parable. The movie wasted my time, and my money. More won't be spent.

  38. Rolacola says:

    I don't think it really matters about the main characters. Yes everyone loves the Pevensies but I think everyone loves Narnia more. I think they way they have marketted VODT was dreadful and they'll need to step everything up if they make silver chair. Especially with Will Poulter fronting the movie, i expect everyone will be like "Oh LOL it's him from School of Comedy" even though he's been in VODT the comedy role he's played will stick with him :/

  39. frothybeans45731 says:

    Dude, I really hope they make them all. Just for narnia fans 🙂 They had better. I have been so excited to see the rest of them. They would all be amazing!!!! The Horse and His Boy is kind of a random one, though….

  40. Bethany says:

    I saw the movie today, and I do understand Apted's point that the Pevensies aren't in the books again for a while, but I think it all comes back to the marketing and script.
    If people don't want to watch SC because they don't care about Eustace, it's because the script for VDT was off. I don't want to spoil anything for anyone who hasn't seen it yet, but Eustace's transformation was too late in the movie. All we saw was the bratty cousin being a jerk and then suddenly being nice the last five minutes of the film. We saw so much of the bad Eustace that it's hard to think of him as a changed boy. If the audience doesn't believe that he has changed, then it won't want to see a movie that's all about his adventures in Narnia.

  41. Moonwood says:

    I reread the article, and I think Apted is going senile.

  42. blackmiracle says:

    When I went to see the Voyage of the Dawn Treader, I left with tears streaming down my face. I can't wait until all of the films come out, however different from the books they may be. But it is definitely NOT a waste of time.

  43. Rilian says:

    Michael Apted actually hits on one of the big questions that Dr. Michael Ward tries to answer in Planet Narnia.

  44. Paurian says:

    Perhaps each movie *has* been getting further from the true plotline and message/meaning than the previous one made, but there's hope that the next one is better. Besides, the films might peak enough interest in non-believers to get them into reading the books.

  45. Narnia!!! says:

    I absolutely disagree with you!! I think there great movies! There fun to watch even know they might not be exactly like the book. When you think about it the only book that really brings out the Christan religion is the lion the witch and the wardrobe, other then the last battle. So you really cant expect the other movies to have a certain Christan story line or Christan lesson.

  46. Narnia!!! says:

    jhayam doesn't know what hes talking about so who cares what he says!

  47. Narnia!!! says:

    Dude, I absolutely agree with you! It doesn't matter that all the main characters don't come back in ever story. But people need to realize that all the stories are really good stories without the same characters.