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Narnia 'Silver Chair' film moves forward – why now?

Sony has stepped in to produce 'The Silver Chair,' the fourth film based on C.S. Lewis's Chronicles of Narnia series.

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'The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader' stars Ben Barnes (l.) Skandar Keynes (center), and Georgie Henley (r.).

Phil Bray/20th Century Fox/AP/File

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The Narnia book series by C.S. Lewis will return to the big screen with a film version of “The Silver Chair,” a project that will follow the recent previous Narnia films and which shows the continuing popularity of Mr. Lewis’s books. 

Sony Pictures Entertainment will be releasing the movie and David Magee, who has previously worked on such films as the 2004 movie “Finding Neverland” and 2012’s “Life of Pi,” will be adapting Lewis’s book. 

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Unlike the previous three films in the series – 2005’s “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe,” the 2008 movie “The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian,” and 2010’s “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader" – “Silver Chair” will presumably not feature the Pevensie siblings, which were portrayed by actors including William Moseley and Anna Popplewell.

Recommended:C.S. Lewis: 10 thought-provoking quotes

The fourth film in the series centers on Pevensie cousin Eustace Scrubb, who was portrayed in the film version of “Treader” by actor Will Poulter. 

Producer Mark Gordon had been on board the “Silver Chair” project for some time, but the film lacked a studio. 

There will obviously be a several-year gap between 2010’s “Treader” and this film, and the delay could be attributed to the declining box office of the “Narnia” series. “Treader” made less than half of what “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” grossed domestically in 2005. 

The movies have swapped studios as well, with “Treader” being released by Fox rather than Disney, the studio behind the first two movies. Now Sony is stepping in.

Deadline writer Mike Fleming Jr. attributes the development of this new movie to an ambition on the part of Sony and the Sony company TriStar Pictures to make films based on books with international appeal. 

“[‘Silver Chair’] fits TriStar head Hannah Minghella’s mandate to generate literary properties that will travel, something that fits [Sony chairman] Tom Rothman’s mandate at Sony,” Mr. Fleming writes. 

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And Haleigh Foutch of Collider thinks those behind the new film see it as a fresh opportunity, given its paucity of returning characters. 

“It’s not surprising that the production companies would want to build something new instead of relying on the foundation of a franchise that was ultimately always a bit of an underperformer,” Ms. Foutch writes. 

The “Narnia” books remain acclaimed, with Paste Magazine staff naming the series earlier this year as one of the best fantasy book series ever.