joe johnston to direct narnia the silver chair

We’re going back through the wardrobe.

Captain America: The First Avenger director Joe Johnston has been tapped to helm The Chronicles of Narnia: The Silver Chair, which we heard was meant reboot the franchise, seven years after the last Narnia film hit theaters.

The Silver Chair follows Eustace Scrubb (played by The Revenant‘s Will Poulter in Voyage of the Dawn Treader, as seen above) as he and his classmate Jill Pope are tasked by Aslan to find a missing prince. There’s no word on whether the original cast — though Poulter’s Eustace would be the only returning character — would be back for the new film.

The Silver Chair takes place a year after the events of Voyage of the Dawn Treader — at least in England. In Narnia, it has been decades, and Caspian has married and birthed a son, the new crown prince. But the prince suddenly goes missing, prompting Aslan to call on Eustace — the reformed annoying cousin of the Pevensie siblings from the first three films — to go on a quest to find him. Eustace unwittingly brings along his boarding school classmate Jill Pope, and they find themselves trekking through a dark and terrifying part of Narnia we had never known existed.

Will Poulter would be the only original cast member who would need to return to this film, as Will, Edmund, Susan and Lucy Pevensie are no longer allowed back in Narnia, and Caspian has grown to be an old man. Poulter was 16 when he played Eustace in Voyage of the Dawn Treader and it will be hard to convincingly portray him as just a year older, but at 24 now, he could still play a boarding school student if they set The Silver Chair a few years later. As of now, it’s unclear if any cast members from the original franchise will return.

Johnston, who in addition to Captain America, has had success with his films The Wolfman and the original Jumanji, will be directing the film while David Magee, the writer behind book-to-screen adaptations of Life of Pi and Finding Neverland, will pen the script. They seem like a good fit for this film, which is arguably the darkest of the Narnia stories aside from the seventh and final book, The Last Battle. If anything, The Silver Chair could easily engage in the twisted, malevolent grittiness that today’s fantasy films seem to love.

For us Narnia fans, it seemed like hope was lost for the cinematic completion of C.S. Lewis‘ fantasy series after Voyage of the Dawn Treader flopped at the box office in 2010. It was the third film in the series, following 2005’s The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe and 2008’s Prince Caspian, though it’s the sixth in the series of novels.

There is only one more book — the most overtly Christian and my least favorite of them, to be honest — in the series, so the franchise won’t last much longer unless they adapt the prequel The Magician’s Nephew or the vaguely racist one-off story The Horse and His Boy. I am excited for The Silver Chair though, it’s tonally much more mature and chilling than any of the previous stories, and would make for a compelling silver screen adaptation.

TriStar, the Mark Gordon Company and Entertainment One will finance The Silver Chair. Gordon will produce, alongside C.S. Lewis’ stepson Douglas Gresham, Vincent Sieber and Melvin Adams.

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