What Happened to The Silver Chair Movie

There has been no official word on the status of The Chronicles of Narnia: The Silver Chair movie for two years. Director Joe Johnston’s hopes to begin filming in 2018 did not pan out.

At the C.S. Lewis symposium in Montreat, Douglas Gresham (stepson of C.S. Lewis) again said he was very happy with Oscar-nominee David Magee’s script for The Silver Chair. But after a change in leadership, there was pressure to make it a “girl power action movie.” At that point, Gresham said he was not interested and “walked away.” Now, Netflix is developing Narnia adaptations and Gresham is waiting to get more information from them.

In a related story, Gresham explained that he objected to an early draft of The Voyage of the Dawn Treader script that included a witch (The Lady of the Green Kirtle). He was “horrified” when he saw the green mist in the final version and said that while the movie did have some magnificent moments, he was not completely happy with it.

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24 Responses

  1. Roger Kvinnesland says:

    Fascinating! I am not at all suprised to hear that the studio wanted to follow the trend with kickass female leads however one would think that Jill would suffice? Anyhow glad to hear from Gresham, hopefully netflix will listen to him and have a good working relationship.

    Edit: Will this topic be covered in a future podcast? Would love to hear the talking beasts’ thoughts

    • Glumpuddle says:

      “Will this topic be covered in a future podcast?”

      Yes. 🙂 We’ll talk about it at the end of this Sunday’s episode.

  2. Timothy P Roberts says:

    Let’s remember that The Silver Chair was written from Jill’s point of view and thus she would be the lead character. Everyone except Scrubb is a supporting actor. It would be like the movie Tangled. Jill would be like Rapunzel and Scrubb would be the male interest.

    • Timothy P Roberts says:

      Why not give Jill a sword instead of a riding crop at the end. And have Jill poke Aslan with the thorn instead of Scrubb. The focus is on her anyhow.

      • Gregory says:

        The point is that The Silver Chair is not about action or girl power or anything of the kind. There’s literally one fight in the whole story and it takes up about a half a page. Jill is the main character of the book, but her story is not about becoming a badass warrior princess, it’s about learning to trust others and own up to her own mistakes. If they did with Jill what they were trying to do with Susan in Prince Caspian, the story would be ruined.

    • Col Klink says:

      I’m guessing the problem was that The Silver Chair is mostly about Jill messing up and not being the hero. (She accidentally makes Eustace fall off the cliff, advocates going to Harfang, etc.) The story is really more about “marshwiggle power” than “girl power.” LOL. (If Jill weren’t the only girl character, I’d say The Last Battle would have been better for the producer’s purposes. Jill’s much competent in that story.)

      It sounds like there were good reasons for the project being abandoned but I’ve got to say I’d still like to read David Magee’s script.

  3. wild rose says:

    The book already has Jill, and she does play an important roll. I mean, Aslan gives her the instructions about the four signs and it’s her responsibility to say them over and over again. Though I am not at all surprised that they wanted a ‘power girl movie’, that is the new trend. It’s possible to give Jill some more action, like she can also attack the serpent along with Rilian and Eustace, but there is not need at all to just make the movie centered around her and only her. I’m glad Douglas Gresham walked away from that idea. I hope Netflix is able to develop a good story line and will be both interesting, exciting and stick to the main themes and storyline of the book.

  4. JFG II says:

    Thanks Glumpuddle! It’s great to know the story behind the scrapping of The Silver Chair. I guess a Jill/Eustace romance wasn’t a part of it.

  5. Mrs. Archer says:

    I am so happy that Douglas Gresham is not pleased with changes that affect the meaning of the original story. I think the Voyage of the Dawn Treader was, on the whole, a discredit to his stepfather. I was embarrassed to even mention it to people who hadn’t read the book, because of the green mist nonsense. I don’t know how much pull he has over the script, or how much Netflix cares about what C.S. Lewis’ family thinks, but I dearly hope they will listen to Gresham.

  6. Hasdrubal says:

    Meddling aside. I think doing The Silver Chair movie as a sort of loose reboot was flawed from the beginning. The Narnia movie franchise hadn’t really been too successful, save The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe in 2005, the sequels really just fell sort and faded away. I’ve always felt Narnia is a very niche franchise (save TLTWATW which has much more of a transitional story structure) and that the franchise would be better served animated.

    • JFG II says:

      “I’ve always felt Narnia is a very niche franchise (save TLTWATW which has much more of a transitional story structure) and that the franchise would be better served animated.”

      Me TOO, Kind Sir.
      Getting the majority of NarniaWebbers to See the Light (the potential) of animated Narnia, that’s the trick.

      • Eungji Kim says:

        I heartily agree. Now that we have had animation series like Avatar : the Last Airbender and Voltron : Legendary Defender coming out in the last decade, I do believe it’s ripe time for a somewhat Anime-styled animation series of Narnia to be made.

  7. narnia fan 7 says:

    Interesting. I guess this might explains that talk of SC being about Jill “learning to stand up for herself’ from that one Sony executive.

    Well, at least it’s nice to finally know what happened. If there was any lingering part of me that wished that movie had been made it gone now. Lol

    • Reepicheep775 says:

      I had completely forgot about that! But it does fit nicely with what we’re hearing from Gresham here.

      The fact that Narnia is moving over to Netflix is probably a good thing, but it still saddens me that the studio executives involved in SC evidently didn’t think Jill is a good enough character for their movie as Lewis wrote her. I actually think Jill is one of the best written characters in the Chronicles. Just because she isn’t swinging a sword around doesn’t make her a weak character. *sigh*

  8. daughter of the King says:

    I generally think “girl power movies” get a bad rap. No one referred to Ender’s Game as a “boy power movie”. However, even though Jill Pole is the central figure of the book, her story does not fit the mold of the more common takes on that particular trope. I understand why Gresham passed on that idea.

    • Keeper of Lantern Waste says:

      Yeah “girl power” is very unfairly looked at, like yeah sometimes that means you get a boring Mary Sue type, but there are definitely boring Gary Stu types too.

      Jill has very good character development, but if she were a guy, I don’t think it would really change the plot, thus I wouldn’t say she’s some sort of girl power character.

      I (a female) tend to steer away from movies that advertise themselves as “feminist, girl power, etc” NOT because I dislike strong females with action scenes, but because I think when someone is trying to make that the selling point, it means there’s little else to the story. Winter Soldier and Mulan and Mad Max Fury Road and Aliens didn’t have to say they had great female characters, they just did.

    • JFG II says:

      I think female-centered movies get a bad rap specifically because most men & boys are sexist towards stories about girls & women. Think them beneath guy-centric stories typically dominated by men. And even if a female leads an action film guys would like, sexism abounds with word-of-mouth regarding the ‘blatant girl-baiting’. Seriously, my cousin said he would have liked “Gravity” if it weren’t for the ‘girl-power thing’.
      There are smart reasons not to like a movie like “Gravity” (I loved it), but a girl-power-thing? Not one of them. (To be fair, I think Lewis probably wrote Jill as a girl because he’d just written 2 strait books with no new female characters, and wanted to try something a little different.)

  9. Larry W. says:

    It seems like there were solicitations for a movie that has little or nothing to do with the original book. It was a good thing that Mr. Gresham refused the idea for the film.

  10. MelanieJoy says:

    I have no problem with girl power movies, but I have never thought of this as a girl power story. It’s a great story. And that’s enough.
    So I am glad Mr Gresham is trying to stay true to it. But if I’m honest, I always hope that he won’t make it religious and that he can see there is a fan base outside of organized religion as well.
    Now if only he had been more vocal with Prince Caspian…..

  11. Asab says:

    Considering how VotDT turned out, imagine how bad SC must have been for Gresham to walk away from it completely.

  12. Cleander says:

    At last we know!!
    Hearing that, I’m actually glad they quit. Gresham made the right call. Making it a girl power action movie would essentially make it no different from the VODT movie- just another bland, cheesy flick devoid of soul (and probably brain.)
    Jill is the main character, but the focus is on her experiencing the story more than on her being the perfect heroine. Thanks for saving this movie Mr. Gresham! Even though I’d been counting down the days till filming began at one point, I think I’m happier now that we know what really happened to the Silver Chair movie.

  13. Immanuel says:

    Nice, not long ago I wrote about the reason the Narnia movies didn’t succeed and why it was canceled . Sure you’ll find it interesting

    https://wottaread.com/this-is-what-happened-to-the-chronicles-of-narnia-movies/

  14. Edson Falcon says:

    Well, I’m glad Gresham wasn’t happy with the final result of the third film. I agree it had some memorable moments, but that green mist. Geez. It looked like a 90’s nickelodeon show. Just disappointed.

  15. coracle says:

    Nobody seems to have mentioned that “girl-power” in film and TV is generally about girls imitating boys in fighting and racing about in heroic ways.
    Actual girl-power is a good deal broader: it involves learning to be oneself, to enjoy a wide number of activities and interests, to be on good terms with other people of all backgrounds, and to make a positive contribution to the world.
    Aslan is giving all these opportunities to Jill in SC. She is given a list of detailed information that has to be followed in order to make a physical rescue of someone who many male heroes had already failed in their efforts to do. She begins to move from victim to hero as soon as she admits to Aslan what she has done, and she grows from there. The fighting, hunting, etc that she subsequently learns do not make her more heroic, they are just tools.
    Any of us would want to be friends with a girl like this, to have one in their family, or to be her. She does not have to be playing at boy-fighter stuff; it is often shown in the story that she doesn’t get the swords, she has to make do with a knife, yet as she gains courage to face her fears she becomes this great girl.

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