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 initially very happy with the script for The Silver Chair. But after a change in leadership at the studio, 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.
The Silver Chair Screenwriter David Magee talked to NarniaWeb about early versions of the script. Jill’s backstory was expanded and Puddleglum’s heroic monologue was key.
In a related story, Gresham recounted 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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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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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*
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…..
Considering how VotDT turned out, imagine how bad SC must have been for Gresham to walk away from it completely.
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.
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.
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
“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.
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.)
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.
“Will this topic be covered in a future podcast?”
Yes. 🙂 We’ll talk about it at the end of this Sunday’s episode.
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.
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.
I’m guessing what they mean by “girl power” was a significant change in the story. The Silver Chair is centered around Jill but her success is in the team with Eustace and Puddleglum. However, Aslan gave her the four signs to follow, making her the primary heroine. I could speculate about whatever changes must have worried Douglas Gresham, but I do not know what they were so I am not going to do this.
I do not want a story where one character has all the answers, even if it is empowering, those stories feel manipulated and fake. I want a story where Jill learns to be brave and find true friends. Because she becomes brave and because she knows they are not alone, then she is able to face the bullies at Experiment House.
I want a story like the book, it starts off with Jill being emotionally helpless due to the bullying and ends with the bullies as a sidenote. By the end of the story, we’ve almost forgotten about the bullies because her situation has changed and now instead of being afraid of the bullies, we’re laughing at them.
Should Narnia be animated? That’s a loaded question! My answer was a bit too long for a comment, so I put it up on my blog. Thanks for giving me this week’s post topic, lol
I agree. Girls don’t need to imitate boys to be strong. ,”The grass is always greener” so the saying goes. Girls have a strength all their own and Jill learns that in the books.
Girl power has been annoying for over 10 years at least. It is pandering to the extrme. I think we are at the point where boys need to see a truly heroic male again. Not some weakling always apologizing for being a man.
Argh ahhh vomit.
I think the idea of Japanimation version of *any* C.S. Lewis writings is about as popular as a fart in a fan factory. And would be as well placed as chuck norris in a Steve Irwin Doco.
Just somehow I couldn’t imagine Jill speaking broken English and giggling like a Japanese schoolgirl.
Agreed. Goes along with Lewis’ thematics that the loudest thing in the room is the one aluded to the strongest, but not mentioned at all. Thatd be exactly what you outlined, Reepicheep775. If one is accustomed to the sugar hit of Disney, one doesn’t think nourishing lactose sweet enough, If you understand.
Where’s the like button… 🙂
Agreed,Women have a set of their own Giftings and strengths that are specific and also complimentary to those of men. Which is highlighted with Jill throughout the book. The one thing the male and female characters have in common is their willingness to look to Aslan to forfill their call with the gifts, tools and weapons they do have/Have been given, Which Imo _draws_out_ their character and ENABLES them to grow up.
Yes, good point.
Like I said, Getting the majority of NarniaWebbers to see the the potential of animated Narnia, that’s the trick. Narnia Anime? No. Narnia 3D? No. My verdict: As with “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse”, Narnia requires creating a whole new style of animation in order to captivate fans and make the stories work: In Narnia’s case, inspired, traditional hand-drawn animation. “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” was just an example.
Girl Power TSC, i don’t know..
like tLotGK more like a powerful tragedy instead better for that, her forest like in that PC production meeting pick brimming with mysterious and enchanting, seemingly throbbing energy, and Rillian a gradually fallen hero and knight of Narnia to the glory of this foreign and strange enchantment.
But yet all it ever could be for both was an unrequited love.
Then when the somewhat glorious but limited & tragically doomed tyrant has turned into a snake and has been slain, the free Rillian returns to the now bountiful and happy forest spot of their original meeting place, ready to be one of the wisest and noblest leaders of all Narnia, and we the audience are ready for the Last Battle. lol
Well . . . I guess for any and all fans itching to find an “emergency exit”, you can always just snag a DVD copy of BBC’s adaptation of The Silver Chair and call it a day.
I’m currently in the middle of The Voyage of the Dawn Treader in The Chronicles of Narnia: The Signature Edition book, and even though I’ve never read The Silver Chair or The Last Battle, I will soon be ready to start reading The Silver Chair soon enough. In light of this news, I’m starting to think that it might not hurt to give BBC a chance with this one.
It may not be perfect, but I’m tempted after reading the book to watch it anyway. At this point, I think the verdict is clear: It’s better than nothing . . . and for those who have waited this long to see the story of The Silver Chair told on film, it may very well be that simply adding BBC’s version of The Silver Chair to your Narnia DVD collection is the lesser of two evils.
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“girl power action movie.” Thank goodness they didn’t go in that direction. This ludicrous trend is getting totally out of hand in Hollywood. It was clearly born of the PC garbage sweeping the country.
I jsut wanted to comment that Gregory you are point on as a female I would rather the story remain true and I think that women and young girls need lessons like that because that’s what leads them to having a foundation to be the badass warrior princess later! My teen daughter just got donte reading the book and was wishing there was a movie to follow it up with and this was my favorite series as a young kid these books deserve to be held as they are because they are inheretly empowering of women already. Not changed.
I’ve read these books since I was six and completely agree with you. I don’t see the problem using Jill’s pov.
I’m very happy that Douglas Gresham has been careful about how CS Lewis’ work has been adapted. I wonder if they would consider a crowd-sourced campaign that would give the estate the resources that they need to have creative freedom. I can’t imagine that it wouldn’t meet it’s goal if some effort was put into it.
I like the storyline as it is. I’m in my 50’s now and these books were dear to my heart as a teen. I think the story with all Jill’s mess- ups gives girls hope that thru all of our mistakes we can overcome our past. It also shows the extent of God’s grace and compassion for us, He loves us and pursues us in spite of our mistakes -He Never gives up on us. Relentless pursuit until we understand the mistakes and accept the guidance and grace He calls us to find
I like the it.
I absolutely agree with you!
I was also horrified to see the green mist in VDT
Bummer, Silver Chair won’t happen.Just saw that it was canceled. So any more develpment with Netflix? Im not to happy about that it will be on netflix, bec we don’t use Netflix.
I don’t know exactly what is wrong with netflix team not tell whether they going to plan silver chain or not
It’s easy to remember the “green mist” and forget the “magnificent moments” of VOTDT, but it really had some truly magnificent moments! It was a genuinely fun and swashbuckling movie and great for kids, despite its few glaring faults.
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I dont know why they can’t make it like you read the book, it makes it so much more special to see what you are reading even when the characters don’t look exactly like you imagined. I loved the Chronicles of Narnia books growing up and would read them again if my eyesight were not failing. Give the kids of today a taste of our imagination not a computerized upgrade.