The buzz surrounding the billion-dollar box office success that was Barbie (the movie even broke a Dark Knight record) is starting to subside. And as of late, fans have been eagerly waiting for updates on the next theatrical venture of its director, Greta Gerwig, which is an adaptation of C.S. Lewis's beloved Narnia series. Fortunately, Netflix's film chief, Scott Stuber, recently shared an update on the highly anticipated project, giving fans a glimpse into the creative process behind bringing this iconic literary work to life.
During an extensive Q&A session with Variety executive editor Brent Lang, Scott Stuber discussed everything new and coming soon to Netflix as well as his perspective on the future of cinema. This insightful conversation occurred as part of Variety's Business Managers Elite Breakfast. Amid the chat, Stuber expressed his excitement for the Little Women director’s Narnia project, acknowledging the challenge of adapting a series with such a rich narrative history:
Obviously, ‘The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe’ is kind of the preeminent one, but there’s such an interesting narrative form [to the Narnia series] if you read all of them. And so that’s what she’s working on now with [producer] Amy Pascal and Mark Gordon and they’re trying to figure out how they can break the whole arc of all of it.
The Chronicles of Narnia is a seven-book portal fantasy series by C. S. Lewis and illustrated by Pauline Baynes, which was published between 1950 and 1956. Adaptations span radio, television, stage, film, and video games, chronicling children transported to Narnia, guided by lion Aslan, who shapes the realm's history against evil. The series encapsulates the fantasy world’s inception to demise and is considered a children’s literature classic. It remains Lewis’ best seller, boasting 120 million copies sold in 47 languages.
The mega streamer reached a deal with the Lewis estate back in 2018, and the initial plan was for the adaptation to be a TV show. That ultimately changed, and Greta Gerwig joined the project earlier this year, following the success of her cinematic take on Mattel's most famous fashion doll. The acclaimed Lady Bird filmmaker has not been shy about being "terrified" to take on the children's classic, but it's a fear that Scott Stuber and Netflix do not seem to share. The exec praised Gerwig’s talent and shared insights into the collaboration, stating:
[Gerwig] grew up in a Christian background. The C.S. Lewis books are very much based in Christianity. And so we just started talking about it. And like I said earlier, we don’t have IP, so when we had the opportunity [to license] those books or the [Roald Dahl Co.] we’ve jumped at it, to have stories that people recognize and the ability to tell those stories. So it was just a great opportunity and I’m so thrilled that she’s working on it with us and I’m just thrilled to be in business with her. And she’s just an incredible talent.
This revelation sheds light on the director's connection to the source material and suggests a thoughtful and faithful adaptation that captures the essence of C.S. Lewis' imaginative universe. The Narnia series, known for its symbolic elements and fantastical storytelling, has garnered a dedicated fan base since its inception, and they'll surely be eager to see what's to come.
Also, during a chat with Collider’s Steve Weintraub, the Film Chief discussed Netflix's approach to creating original intellectual properties (IP) compared to adapting stories from existing catalogs. Scott Stuber emphasized their proactive stance in those specific areas, saying:
We went out and got the C.S. Lewis library. We went out and got [Roald] Dahl, so we have an opportunity to make some of those animated features around Charlie and some of those great titles. We went out and got some of those video games.
The streaming juggernaut continues to expand its content library, recently venturing into Roald Dahl's vibrant realm with the release of the Benedict Cumberbatch-led and Wes Anderson-directed short film The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar. The film branch exec also seems to be assuring fans that more captivating content is in the pipeline, urging them to stay tuned to Netflix's TV schedule.
Specifics about Greta Gerwig's adaption of the series of fantasy novels remain under wraps for now. Though Scott Stuber's optimistic remarks suggest that 2024 will mark a significant step forward in bringing this enchanting adaptation to life. Let's hope she can indeed continue her glorious streak of making quality films and provide audiences with a true spectacle.
In the meantime, viewers can explore her other notable works for a taste of Greta Gerwig's directorial prowess. Dive into the schedule of 2023 new movie releases and catch the year's biggest hit, Barbie, which is available for rent across various platforms. Alternatively, you can stream her 2017 indie hit, Lady Bird, with a Netflix subscription.