“Jumanji” Director Joe Johnston Set to Revive “Narnia” Franchise With “The Silver Chair”

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Joe Johnston Narnia The Silver ChairGetty Images

We already knew that there was going to be another movie based on C.S. Lewis’ classic book series The Chronicles of Narnia, and now it has a director in , who will take the helm of . It’s not the world’s most exciting franchise, but when you’re coming off a direct-to-VOD thriller, it’ll have to do.

Johnston may have directed the first Captain America movie for Marvel, but I suspect the reason he landed this plum studio gig is his experience making family films such as Jumanji, The Rocketeer and Honey, I Shrunk the Kids. Sure, Johnston has directed his share of stinkers, such as Jurassic Park III, The Wolfman, The Pagemaster and Hidalgo, but he also has credits on the original Star Wars trilogy, and how many working filmmakers can say that?

The first three films in the Narnia franchise grossed nearly $1.6 billion worldwide, but by the time the franchise changed hands from Disney to Fox with 2010’s The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, it sure felt like it had run out of gas even though it matched the global box office haul ($415 million) of its predecessor, Prince Caspian. Perhaps that’s why Fox let it go, allowing producer Mark Gordon and the C.S. Lewis Company to take the creatively moribund franchise to TriStar Pictures and Entertainment One.

That team will work together to breathe new life into the seven-book Narnia series — which has sold more than 100 million copies worldwide — by shifting the focus from the Pevensie siblings to their oddly-named cousin Eustace Scrubb, who travels to Narnia to save Prince Caspian’s kidnapped child.

Johnston will direct The Silver Chair from a script by David Magee (Life of Pi), while Gordon will produce with Vincent Sieber, Melvin Adams and Lewis’ stepson Douglas Gresham. They’ve got their work cut out for them, but on the bright side, this entry can’t be worse than the last one.

Johnston is represented by , and Variety broke the Narnia news.

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