Is Netflix’s Narnia Trying to Be the Next Game of Thrones? | Talking Beasts

Podcast Discussion

Should we be concerned or excited about the success of Game of Thrones and The Lord of the Rings influencing Narnia adaptations?

“Anything that smells or looks like Game of Thrones is something that people are excited about,” said Mark Gordon, co-producer of Netflix’s upcoming Chronicles of Narnia productions.

Listen to our discussion and post a comment!

Podcasters: Glumpuddle, Dot

27 Responses

  1. What Dot points out about the abundance of fantasy literature is so spot on. There are many many books out there, of which many are being developed into film and television. Netflix is already far along in making “The Witcher” into a series. They’re already trying to compete with/fill the void of GoT.

    So, really, truly, this Narnia adaptation will fly under the radar if its raison d’être is “famous fantasy property.” If the showrunners approach it in a generic, milk-it-for-all-its-worth fashion, they’ll have missed a big opportunity. On the other hand, if they’d embrace the stories for what they are, and trust Lewis’ writing, this could be an outstandingly special series. Not just another show about castles and battles, but of philosophy, personality, spirituality, the concept of Joy, beauty, morality, adventure, and so on.

    If someone would just get Narnia right, they’d have a modern classic on their hands. I really believe that.

    The goal should be for the audience to watch it and, rather than saying, “Eh. That was entertaining. That was fantasy,” they should be able to say, “That was magical. That was Lewis, that was Narnia.”

    • Col Klink says:

      At the same time, isn't the fact that they're buying Narnia and not those other fantasy series an acknowledgment that there is something special about Narnia? Like Daughter of the King said, there are lots of fantasy books written all the time. The fact that Narnia is considered popular enough for a Netflix series to be marketable is a sign that C. S. Lewis did something well.

      • One would hope. At this point, who knows? Narnia is a known quantity; that could be the reason Netflix bought it. Name brand value, promotes itself. Netflix seems to like throwing a lot at the wall and seeing what sticks. They're making The Witcher, The Dark Crystal, as well as Narnia. And I wouldn't doubt there are other fantasy shows in development.

        Or they bought it because they believe in it. It's entirely possible. I don't know; I'm only speculating at this point. It's just that the comments from the press release and this recent interview are consistently buzzwordy, rather than specific about what makes Narnia special and why they want to adapt it. We don't have much to go on here. I'm just not terribly impressed by what's been said so far about the project.

        As Glumpuddle pointed out, the Walden movies were made on the heels of LotR's success, which proved that fantasy films could make oodles of money. Here we are 15-odd years later, where GoT's success has proved that fantasy television shows can make oodles of money. So we'll see. I hope to pleasantly surprised with this project. So far it sounds a tad cynical and trendy.

    • Col Klink says:

      I'm a bit of an evil capitalist if that helps you understand from where I'm coming. I don't think doing something to make money makes it bad.

      • I love capitalism. Totally for it. And you're right, doing something to make money isn't necessarily bad. These projects employ a lot of people; they wouldn't get made if there wasn't a financial motivation. And you can have success both commercially and artistically in a show.

        So, part of what makes capitalism work is competition. And I think what would give Netflix a competitive edge is if they really tried to make their Narnian adaptation as close as they can to the books, rather than go a route where everything's kind of generic and Hollywood. I've read a good bit of fantasy in my day (I'm sure everyone here has), and the Narnian chronicles stand out very uniquely among even the best of the genre. There's nothing quite like Narnia, and I don't think even the Walden films really captured its spirit.

        There's got to be something to this adaptation that isn't just "it's fantasy and it's magic and there are battles and creatures and a choral soundtrack." I believe the books, as they are, provide very deep, interesting, special stories that would be captivating if put to the screen. I hope the showrunners put some faith in Lewis, not just current media trends and tropes. Like Glumpuddle pointed out, Star Wars was special because it was different, not because there were a bunch of films just like it. It stood out. So can Narnia.

      • Col Klink says:

        I agree that it would be really nice if someone were to want adapt Narnia because they want to do something specifically Narnian. However, this might help explain my position better.

        I agree that the first Star Wars movie is a good example of a movie that was a surprise hit and something of a pioneer. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe movie, on the other hand, was made as part of the then current wave of fantasy adventure movies. But while I'm not in the majority in this opinion, I think LWW is a better movie than Star Wars. Back when The Force Awakens was coming out and people were talking about how exciting it was to get another movie similar to the original Star Wars trilogy, I realized something surprising. I wasn't interested in a movie similar to the original Star Wars trilogy. I came to the conclusion that this was because the world created by the original trilogy is rather drab and dull. The characters dress solely in white, gray, black and the occasional brown and every planet is an inhospitable wilderness. I much prefer the world created by the first two Narnia movies. It's much more colorful and fun to explore. And as far as other moviemaking aspects go, such as writing and acting, I think Walden's Narnia is equal or superior to the original Star Wars movies.

        So I personally find LWW to be a better movie than Star Wars and I don't care that Star Wars was more of an artistic risk at the time.

    • narnia fan 7 says:

      That's a good point about The Witcher. From what little I know about the source marital it seems a lot like Game of Thrones in terms of tone and, shall we say, mature content.

      I'm not to worry about Netflix trying making Narnia 'darker' to appeal to the GoT audience to begin with. And the fact that Netflix already a GoT esque fantasy show well into production puts my mind even more at ease. On that point at least.

      • Yes exactly. I think The Witcher is more likely to draw in the GoT crowd due to its mature themes and whatnot (though I don't know too much about it).

        I'm not worried about the GoT remark either. I don't think Mark Gordon was implying this new adaptation was going to be ultra mature. It's the "3000 characters" and the "capacity to translate the Narnia universe into both stellar feature-length and episodic programming" stuff that raises an eyebrow or two. Who really knows what he means. For my part, I'm sure I've misunderstood what's been said so far about this project. For their part, they've been fairly cryptic. Maybe all they really plan to do is adapt the seven books and flesh out some references within them. Beef up the action. Even then, I think it's unnecessary, but it's the way these things seem to go. Time will tell.

      • narnia fan 7 says:

        I think the most charitable interpretation of some comments made by Gordon is: There just adapting the books and since they are, to an extent, standalone and don't have any kind of overarching plot. They just want to really emphasize the world of Narnia itself and make it feel vary special and unique to draw in the audience and keep them invested.

        The worst case scenario, and in my opinion the more likely. Is that they plan to make Narnia into a "Cinematic Universe" with spin-off etc. And squeeze every last drop of content out of a recognisable brand name as they possibly can.

        Maybe I'm being overly cynical, at this point they might not even know for sure what there're doing yet. But that's how I see things at the moment. But of course we just have to wait and see.

      • Absolutely, I think you've summed it up well. And to some extent, it'd be cool for them to emphasize the world of Narnia (as long as it's really Narnia, and depending on how they do it). Some sense of continuity would be great, even though I think the seven chronicles are perfectly cohesive as they are. For example, I hope to see some Marshwiggles at Narnia's creation in The Magician's Nephew. Small things like that would add a lot.

        I'm quite cynical myself, but I love being proved wrong.

    • Christopher says:

      I think the BIGGEST mistake Netflix could possibly make here is if
      they started their series off with a reboot of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. In a post-Andrew Adamson Narnia fan climate, I simply do not see that going down well at all with fans of Andrew Adamson’s Narnia movies, and it could come across as extremely arrogant and presumptive of Netflix if they decided to start there. I think it would be a very, very bad decision both creative-wise and business-wise, and a sure-fire way to get off on the wrong foot with many viewers.

      As one person once said: “the world isn’t ready for a remake of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe”, and I totally agree with that statement.

  2. Forrest Lybrand said: “That was magical. That was Lewis, that was Narnia.”

    That sounds like music to my ears!

    Yes, the Narnia books are popular because they are unique! They are one of a kind and so special the way they are written. We don't need 10 Lord of the Rings or 10 Game of Thrones. Let's have 10 different original franchises.

    We could have best of both worlds: I would love to see all 7 chronicles being adapted well, and then perhaps some spinoffs.

    I am just hopeful we may get some screen adaptations of The Magician's Nephew, The Horse and His Boy and The Last Battle.

    I hope an amazing writing team and directors are hired – who understand and appreciate the Chronicles. Even if they are not – they can train themselves to be. There are several Narnia appreciation books published: Past Watchful Dragons by Walter Hooper is one of them. C.S. Lewis: A Life by Alistair McGrath also has some good insights.

    By Aslan's mane, this could be an adventure worth taking, or one worth taking to find out whether we shouldn't have.

    • Glumpuddle says:

      “By Aslan’s mane, this could be an adventure worth taking, or one worth taking to find out whether we shouldn’t have.”

      I've never seen a better short description of NarniaWeb.com haha.

    • Hear hear!

      You wrote, "We could have best of both worlds: I would love to see all 7 chronicles being adapted well, and then perhaps some spinoffs."

      I agree. If spinoffs are inevitable, they're inevitable. But if Netflix would at the very least make 7 solid adaptations of the 7 books, I'll be content, and can ignore the spinoffs all I like.

      • Christopher says:

        I positively refuse to watch reboots of Narnia 2, 4 and 5 – regardless of how much effort goes into it. As far as I’m concerned, Netflix will be wasting their time remaking what I already have in my DVD library collection. I will NOT watch a reboot of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Prince Caspian, or The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. So, for me, it will be a guaranteed partial boycott.

        If I pay any attention to what Netflix does (as in, at all), it will only be to see how Narnia 1, 3, 6 and 7 turn out. If they are well done, I will simply watch the films in chronological order, paying no heed that 4/7 of C.S. Lewis’ story came from a different film crew.

  3. Col Klink says:

    I'm with the podcasters in that I'm not happy about Netflix wanting to make a Narnia series so they can appeal to the GOTR fanbase but I don't think the new franchise should be dismissed out of hand. After all, no art (or merchandise) is created in a vacuum. C. S. Lewis was influenced by Greek/Roman mythology, Arthurian legends, the fantasies of George Macdonald and the children's books of E. Nesbit when he wrote Narnia. That doesn't mean Narnia is bad. So being influenced by Game of Thrones (or Amazon's Lord of the Rings series) doesn't mean something can't be good.

    The worrying part for fans is that the GOTR aspects might not mesh well with Narnia. Reepicheep775 and The Rose Tree Dryad had some great thoughts on how Narnia is different from the kind of thing Mark Gordon seems to be suggesting here. https://forum.narniaweb.com/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=8426&start=16 That plus this podcast episode sums up my thoughts better than I could do myself.

    P.S.
    It's funny that Glumpuddle was depressed by how nakedly they admitted they want to cash in on GOTR. I find it admirably honest. LOL.

  4. Col Klink says:

    One of my favorite YouTube channels just did a video where they took a synopsis of Game of Thrones translated it into another language, then another language, then another language, until finally they translated it back into language. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ngv4Brvjpw0 It naturally talks about the sexual content of the show so viewer discretion is advised but the result is pretty entertaining. Probably not a good introduction for newcomers though. I've never watched GOTR (nor do I have intentions of doing so) and after watching that video, I have less idea of what the story is than I did before.

  5. narnia fan 7 says:

    Personally I think it would be a little absurd to worry about Netflix trying making Narnia like Game of Thrones, at least in terms of content (violence, sex, etc.) Of all the potential pitfalls I think that's the one we don't have to worry about. (I hope I didn't just jinx it.)

    GP brings up a good point about expanding on the books. I think to an extent, filling in some details and fleshing somethings out is perfectly acceptable. For example, how the LWW movie expanded on the Pevensise experience with the war and the carvings on the wardrobe.

    For me where I draw the line is adding characters, narrative threads, or subplots that aren't in the book. These kinds of changes almost always detract from the original story and characters. Which is a big reason why comments about a "Narnia universe" and "3 ,000 character" have me more then a little pessimistic about these Netflix adaptations.

  6. Impending Doom says:

    Yes, eOne and Netflix are trying to create the next commercially successful series. I don't think we can extrapolate too much from these comments though. The article was about Game of Thrones, not Narnia.

    Remember, Gresham talked about how he'd been hearing "rather wonderful ideas brought to the table." and how "you can put the whole book in.” which tells me that they won't be going down the route of spinoffs or major story changes just yet.

    Just seems too early to be worrying about each individual comment (positive or negative) until we start getting some concrete details. We'll have an indicator when they reveal the order on how they'll adapt the series and in what format.

    • Cleander says:

      I think these conversations just provide a vent for our impatience during the silent times. This may have nothing to do with how things go in the end, but it helps us all get
      our expectations together and figure out what we want… before we don't get it. (Sorry, that was uncharacteristically pessimistic of me XD).

      • JFG II says:

        Well, it is definitely a dry time for Narnia fans. I’m not expecting any real news for another year at least. Adaptation order and Casting are next on the list.

        That’s what happened with Netflix’s ‘A Series of Unfortunate Events’. Way back in November of 2014, Netflix lightly announced they would create adaptations of the books. A year later, filming order and casting were announced with filming staring in early 2016. Season One of ‘A Series of Unfortunate Events’ premiered 26 months after being announced, in January of 2017.

        Narnia was announced back in October of 2018, so I’m expecting order and casting announcements to commence by Christmas of 2019 this year, with Season One (or Film One?) premiering December of 2020.

    • Glumpuddle says:

      Definitely important to keep the context in mind: This was an article that originally appeared in Financial Times that was specifically focused on Game of Thrones and its influence. Gordon was just responding to questions.

      But, I don't think it's too early to be concerned that, once again, Narnia might be stuck in the shadow of other franchises. I’ve been concerned about that for several years haha. It happened with Walden and it may be happening again. This article is merely the occasion, not the cause, of my concern.

      But it is too early to lose hope. At this stage, it's mostly the suits that are involved. There's still time for someone creative to come along who loves Narnia because it's Narnia, not because it's kind of similar to other successful franchises.

  7. EdmundP17 says:

    I am positively optimistic about this. I agree with most of the commentators saying that Netflix could be merely taking inspiration from the way GoT has been adapted (through I have yet to watch the series), in terms of characters, world building, storytelling, etc..
    Another reason I have faith in Netflix is that I, and most fans of the original books, agree that Netflix's adaption of A Series of Unfortunate Events (and the '80s Anne of Green Gables trilogy) is one of the best and most faithful adaptions of any book series to date. They not only took time in bringing each book to screen, but they let the original author Lemony Snicker/Daniel Handler not only be a consultant in the project but an executive producer, allowing him to fill in any plot holes and fix any inconsistencies. Therefore serving as a second draft for the author. I really hope they, like Disney and Walden, allow Gresham to continue to be an executive producer and consultant (which it sounds like they are) on all things and progress NarniaWeb related. After all, he does run his stepfather's estate.

    Relating back to Dot's comments about there being a plethora of fantasy series out there (which I whole heatedly agree!) but not really knowing of any authors out there that have come close to Lewis in terms of stories. Let me point you towards the wonderful series by Lloyd Alexander, The Chronicles of Prydain. It is steeped in Celtic mythology and has the appearance of Tolkien in it's descriptions, but the storytelling of Lewis in it's innocence and darker, yet grounded, fairytale aspects amongst it's more mythological ones.

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  9. the4signs(repeat) says:

    Glumpuddle’s concerns about adapting a book that is a few hundred pages and turning it into a multi episode series are valid. Take the Hobbit movie trilogy as a similar case. Rich creamy butter scrapped over way too much bread. The result… added characters like Alfrid Lickspittle. Yikes.

  10. Cleander says:

    So is Narnia trying to be the next Game of Thrones? These people seem to think so: https://www.whats-on-netflix.com/news/upcoming-netflix-shows-to-rival-game-of-thrones/

  11. Horea says:

    This should not be an issue at all. GOT have established an excellent impression to everyone and I think for Narnia, this is the right time! I was actually excited for another fantasy series. Yay!

    Horea | https://www.rivalry.com/

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