8 Facts About the Cancelled “Silver Chair” Movie
In 2013, three years after the release of the third Narnia movie, The Mark Gordon Company announced they were developing The Chronicles of Narnia: The Silver Chair. Screenwriter David Magee and Director Joe Johnston later signed on.
But, the project was eventually abandoned, and now Netflix is developing their own Narnia series and movies.
Fans can only imagine what might have been. Below is everything we know about The Silver Chair movie that never happened.
1. It was a reboot.
Director Joe Johnston said the movie would be “set apart from the films in the other trilogy” from Walden Media.
2. Jill’s backstory was expanded.
The first few pages of the book broadly describe the situation at Jill and Eustace’s school. Magee said that a huge challenge in writing the script was “fleshing out Jill’s back story for the film in a way that builds upon and honors the original book.”
“What’s interesting in the book is it’s not clear what [Jill has] been bullied about. It’s not clear what happened leading up to that moment, it’s not clear what the context is. […]
Obviously it’s still a dramatic time in world history, we’re still in wartime, we’re at a boarding school and this girl has gone through a lot of some sort or another. And so that’s where we began our exploration. And then whenever you’re writing a film, you want that journey that she’s on to somehow be resolved by the journey itself.”David Magee, Screenwriter (full interview)
“Thematically, the story of a young girl who is being bullied but who has to find the courage to stand up not just for herself but ultimately all Narnians has such strong positive messaging.”Hannah Minghella, Tristar President (full interview)
[The Silver Chair] is about hope. It’s about working together and recognizing how you can share responsibility with others and how you can work together. It’s about standing up to tyranny; whether you call it a bully or however you like to phrase it. It’s about standing up and not running from tyranny.Director Joe Johnston (full interview)
3. Character ages
Jill Pole and Eustace Scrubb were “roughly the same as in the book,” Magee tweeted. According to Lewis’s timeline, both characters are 9 years old.
Director Joe Johnston said Will Poulter was “too old” to play Eustace. He was 24 at the time.
In 2017, it was rumored that Millie Bobby Brown had been offered the role of Jill Pole. She was 13 at the time.
4. Dawn Treader Flashbacks were considered.
At one point, Magee considered including flashbacks to some of Eustace’s experiences in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, but “decided we didn’t need them.”
5. The Lady of the Green Kirtle might have had a name.
The Queen of Underland’s actual name is never revealed in the book. In 2014, Narnia.com began accepting fan ideas for a name that would be used in the film.
But, a couple years later Magee tweeted, “We have not given her a name as of yet and might not use any name in the dialogue.”
6. Puddleglum’s “speech” was in.
Would any adaptation of The Silver Chair be complete without the marsh-wiggle’s heroic monologue to The Lady of the Green Kirtle from chapter 12?
“One of the themes of The Silver Chair which kind of crosses over a lot of things that I am interested in writing has to do with the ways in which stories help us negotiate our way through life and having an outside perspective on things. And even fantasy stories that help us to understand reality a little better, get us through the difficult times in our lives. […]
The main dramatic speech of the book and the film, at least from a thematic story, is when Puddleglum is talking to the witch at the end and he says ‘You know you might be right, maybe everything you say is true, maybe none of the world that I believe in exists. But if it doesn’t, well that makes this world a pretty sad place and not a place I want to stay in and so I’m going to keep searching for that’. And I liked the optimism of that from the most pessimistic of characters at the climactic moment of the story.”David Magee, Screenwriter (full interview)
7. New “trilogy”?
Director Joe Johnston said The Silver Chair would be “the beginning of a brand new trilogy. ” This led to a tidal wave of speculation about what exactly he meant. NarniaWeb believes the hope was to continue the “trilogy” with The Magician’s Nephew and The Last Battle, and then possibly follow-up with The Horse and His Boy.
8. Gresham liked the script. But then…
Douglas Gresham (co-producer, step-son of C.S. Lewis) said The Silver Chair would be “a corker of a movie,” and called an early draft one of the best scripts he has seen for a Narnia movie.
But then, after a change in leadership at the studio, there was pressure to make it a “girl power action movie.” At that point, Gresham walked away and the project petered out. Now, Netflix is developing Narnia adaptations with Gresham still listed as a co-producer.
Listen to NarniaWeb’s exclusive interview with The Silver Chair screenwriter David Magee.
Are you disappointed that this version of The Silver Chair was cancelled? Post a comment below.
And now sadly we’ll never see it
The Silver Chair is an amazing book. I’d love to see all 7 books adapted into movies so it’s obviously disappointing that only 3 have made it so far.
Yes, this sounds like an adaptation of Silver Chair that would have hit the right notes, and I’ve always been curious how they would continue on without the four Pevensie children. I wasn’t sure how well they would handle Dawn Treader given that it’s more episodic than the first two books and doesn’t culminate in an epic battle, but they brought that one to life so well on screen that I was really looking forward to more.
Regarding “pressure to make it a girl power action movie”: I was looking for “The Silver Chair”, not “Wonder Woman or Captain Marvel in Narnia”. If the director can’t give us the right film, then perhaps Netflix will do it properly.
Besides, I still have LWW to cherish and still listen to the LWW soundtrack CD.
I’m not terribly disappointed that it was cancelled as I’m excited about the idea of Netflix adaptions, but I wonder if we will ever get a chance to see David Magee’s script. Douglas Gresham obviously thought it was great, and it would be a real shame if it just disappeared forever.
Sounds like it would have been a good one and the silver chair was a good book
Not at all. Don’t want woke narnia
I forgot about so much of this dramaXD particularly LotGK name and “new trilogy” stuff.
Incidentally, I’ve been watching/enjoying the His Dark Materials tv series and I feel like Daphne Keen would be a cool choice somewhere in the Narnia series. I’m afraid she’d be a bit old by the time Netflix starts filming, but I think she’d make a really good Jill or Aravis perhaps?
It would have been great if the movie would have been reasonably close to the book, but with the “girl power” story it is unlikely that would have happened. Mr Gresham was wise in refusing to have any part in that proposed adaptation. I don’t know if the Netflix series will be another unfinished project (without adapting all seven books). Let’s hope the new Netflix series will get to the finish of The Last Battle. I have the feeling that it will be easier to accomplish (considering the money and technology) on a small screen. It’s certainly better than having no more adaptations. 🙂
I too would like to see that script.
I am glad that we have some explanations as to why Gresham walked away. (Kind of similar to how Peter Jackson walked away from Miramax after Miramax demanded The Lord of the Rings be turned into one film.) With Netflix, sadly we might never see theatrical movies made of all the books (mostly TV stuff only watchable with an account). The Silver Chair would make a great standalone movie. I hope Netflix considers making the four unadapted Narnia books into feature films, and I also hope they all get some theater time. The first 3 books would make a great TV series.
I wanted more. They did a great job with the first three. The silver chair story is sooo good I was looking forward to see it in screen. I can’t believe they can abandon it after promoting it. I’m not sure what it would look like or what perversion of the book would be made if Netflix’s takes it. Huh frustrating.
My favorite Narnia story – Yes, I’m disappointed in one sense. With that said, if it wasn’t going to be a good film, better to scrap than to produce a poor film.
Netflix can do some good work, however they have a large tendency to totally mess up beloved books.
I’m sure they’d make Jill lesbian or trans or confused non-binary or some such that Lewis wouldn’t have written about!
I’m thinking that a Netflix revamp of C S. Lewis would be awful!
I totally understand why D. G. walked away when/if it became ‘girl-power’ That is not a direction Lewis would have taken it.
I’m sad we won’t have the rest of the books, but I’m glad that they won’t be ruined by hollywood.
I’m kind of glad they left well enough alone. Of course I would have loved to see a Silver Chair “reboot”, but they were taking it in some odd directions that break from the book in some pretty serious ways. It’s not about bullying, and it’s not about working together (though both of those things do happen in the story). And it REALLY isn’t a “girl power action movie” – if any character in that book fits that role, it’s the Lady of the Green Kirtle – she did enslave an entire civilization of gnomes, kill a Narnian queen, and masterminded a plot to conquer a kingdom. I kind of feel they would have butchered a classic, and I’m glad they didn’t. And it opened the door for Netflix to take over, so hopefully they can do what the previous team could not.
PS: This is very off-topic, but if you want a really good portrayal of Puddleglum’s big monologue (and really of that character at all) check out the Focus on the Family radio version – he nails every line! But here’s not an “Eyore” like the BBC version 🙂
Better have no Silver Chair movie than a piece of insipid, soulless garbage. Gresham did the best thing he could have done going to Netflix. Maybe we’ll even see that script reused!
Well, Netflix’s Narnia IS happening. For better or worse.
. . . okay
Why is this cancelled movie still on IMDb?
I think there’s actually a pretty good chance of that, or at least elements of their original ideas. (I think that because Daniel Handler mentioned they used some of the original “A Series of Unfortunate Events” sequel material in season two of the netflix adaptation).
Disappointed that they have stalled on The Silver Chair movie. Can,’t they make ends meet and compromise?
I’m personally relieved that Gresham was willing to pull the plug if they were making the film too “SJW”, “woke”, “21st-century-friendly”, whatever you might want to call it. That gives me hope that the new Netflix series will avoid this road that we’re all probably somewhat fearing they’ll take the adaptations down. Gresham has, and probably always will have a lot of say in what goes into adapting the books from print to screen, from a 1950s audience to a 2020s one. Even in the past, there were departures from the source material which, while he didn’t particularly appreciate them, was not going to make them the hill to die on (i.e., the girls participating in the battles, plot restructuring, toning down and even disregarding the themes, etc). It turns out, he does draw the line somewhere. If Netflix wants to make this franchise happen, they’ll need to be mindful of that.
I am very much disappointed with cancel of Silver chain movie
I am disappointed on one hand, but I don’t like the fact they were going to make a reboot that strayed away from the original trilogy with Disney’s TWW and PC and Fox’s VDT. They should’ve kept this movie in line with the original and have the original cast. But on the other hand, Netflix has rights to all 7 of the series. So I think it will be interesting to see this series be made on Netflix, the problem is are they going to continue where TWW, PC, and VDT finished or are we getting a reboot? I guess will find out.
This is a little bit disappointing, but that’s life.
I learned to read by the chronicales, and at 56 now read them to rags. Really hope netflix turns out The Silver Chair and the others
I agree that I’m sad this movie isn’t happening and that I’m worried about how the Netflix thing will go.
But, to K’s comment, I feel as though somebody needs to point out that putting the word “confused” next to “non-binary” is very offensive. And the negative tone toward letting any character in a modern series be lesbian or trans is offensive. Yes, I agree that changes to Lewis’ work that would make any character more modern than they were is best to be avoided. But to make a joke to our transgender and lesbian siblings’ expense is distasteful at best and utterly offensive at worst.
i agree with k gay kids are stupid they sound like their trying to mess their pants every time they talk.
sorry. left my phone at the store fore 15 minute and this is what happens.
The three mentioned cannot work as a trilogy. The Last Battle cannot effectively work without The Horse and His Boy. Perhaps re-reading each of the seven sins/colours of the Rainbow in order is required…
You can see in BBC’s adapted.
But they never adapted The Magician’s Nephew (TMN). It is my all time favorite and I am sad they never did it with the BBC. I own the BBC originals and the new Walden media ones but the TMN is always left out. Plus, it is probably one of the harder ones to do along with The Silver Chair and the Voyage of the Dawn Treader.