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‘Chronicles of Narnia’ Original Screenwriters Warn Against Turning Series Into Another ‘Great Big Fantasy Franchise’

Screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely think that the long-gestasting "Silver Chair" film is a great idea, but are less enthused about the beloved series aiming for franchise appeal.

No Merchandising. Editorial Use Only. No Book Cover Usage.Mandatory Credit: Photo by 20th Century Fox/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock (5885158h)Ben Barnes, Skandar Keynes, Georgie HenleyThe Chronicles Of Narnia - The Voyage Of The Dawn Treader - 2010Director: Michael Apted20th Century Fox EntertainmentUKScene StillLe Monde de Narnia : L'Odyssée du Passeur d'aurore

“The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader”

20th Century Fox/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock

Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely are franchise guys, and happily so. The screenwriters behind six Marvel Cinematic Universe films — including this week’s much-anticipated new release “Avengers: Infinity War” and its upcoming untitled 2019 sequel, plus all three “Captain America” films — first broke into Hollywood with their “Chronicles of Narnia” films, scripting three different franchise entries before the series sputtered out after 2010’s low-earning “The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.”

While Markus and McFeely are no longer on the “Narnia” beat, the beloved C.S. Lewis series is still in the Hollywood mix, and rumors of a “Silver Chair” film adaptation have persisted since October 2013, when the film rights were purchased by the Mark Gordon Company (the original films were made by Walden Media). Screenwriter David Magee was set to write the screenplay, and director Joe Johnston (who, funnily enough, directed “Captain America: The First Avenger” from a Markus and McFeely script) came on board in April 2017.

In January 2016, producer Mark Gordon told Collider that “Silver Chair” will kick off “a brand new franchise. All original. All original characters, different directors, and an entire new team that this is coming from.” Despite that strong wording, “The Silver Chair” is still reportedly considered a sequel of sorts to “The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.” It’s a smart choice for a new creative team, too, because while Lewis’ book picks up after the events of “Dawn Treader,” the story is the first to not put the Pevensie children at its center. It’s a bit of a fresh start.

Markus and McFeely confirmed to IndieWire in a recent interview that they have no involvement in the new film, but they are enthused about the possibilities of a “Silver Chair” film. As Markus explained, it’s “the most cinematic of the remaining books.” He added, “It has the sort of quest narrative that would easily become a movie, so that is a good choice.”

But the series’ original scribes do caution against attempting to turn “The Silver Chair” and its followups — including three other books, all of which take place during different times and focus on different characters — into another sprawling franchise.

“They’re gonna be in trouble if they, like other people, have felt like, ‘We can turn this into a great big fantasy franchise,’ because the books are all different, and not each one is gonna give you that same movie,” Markus said.

While “The Silver Chair” offers up the kind of narrative that’s conducive to a large-scale fantasy adventure, following the Pevensies’ cousin Eustace Scrubb and his friend Jill Pole on a quest to find Prince Caspian’s son Rilian (who, in turn, went missing while on his own quest), the other books published afterwards are a mishmash of time and place. It’s hardly the kind of material that typically inspires linear franchises that hinge on recurring characters.

That might not scream “big franchise!,” but Markus added another piece of advice that might guide the supposed reboot, explaining, “You can make a thoughtful movie from each one and it would be great if the people were prepared to do that.”

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