The Silver Chair Support Group

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The Silver Chair Support Group

Postby JFG II » Apr 25, 2019 2:48 pm

For anybody and everybody who has anything that they wish to say about The Silver Chair project from TriStar, which (I'm sure) has been completely scrapped in the wake of the Netflix announcement.

After following this project for 8 years, I'm still feeling wrenched.

Like I duped myself into hoping The Silver Chair would ever make it to the big screen.

This is a forum for Narnia fans to share whether they cared for the TriStar project or not, what their hopes or expectations for it were, how they reacted to it after October's Netflix bomb, and how they are coping 6 months later in the aftermath of complete silence.

Personally, I'm (trying to) put a brave face on it.

Apologies for being slow to think up this forum, but then again, I think many of us followed the project quite closely for almost a decade, and many are looking for answers in different places of NarniaWeb.

RIP The Silver Chair Motion Picture.
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Re: The Silver Chair Support Group

Postby Cleander » Apr 25, 2019 3:08 pm

Thank you, thank you, thank you for doing this thread!

I first heard about the project in 2016, around the time that I watched the Walden films for the first time. (I know, I know... even though I LOVED the books for years before, I just hadn't got around to watching the movies.)
But when I heard about SC, I was excited. Another Narnia movie was coming, and this time, I'd be ready for it!
How I excited was I? Last summer I did a daily countdown (with a little help from JFGII ;))in the comment sections on Narniaweb, counting down to the day we just MIGHT get a prep announcement for The Silver Chair! Yes. I was that excited.
I think the pain of the scrapping has been somewhat dulled by the excitement of a new Narnia series on Netflix, but still... we were so close to getting a Narnia movie,
and now we're back to where many people started from nearly 8 years ago. :(
But *sigh* like you, I'm trying to put a bold face on it:
:( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :-s /:) /:) :-s :-s :| :) :D
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Re: The Silver Chair Support Group

Postby Col Klink » Apr 25, 2019 5:25 pm

Great topic. Depressing but great.

I was really interested in The Silver Chair movie. I was optimistic about David Magee as a screenwriter. His interview for Narniaweb sounded really promising. It seemed like he was more of a fan of the source material than Marckus and McFeely and that his script would be more writerly and less pulpy than theirs were. (Just so people know, I'm actually a big fan of the first two Narnia movies. I just feel like the scripts were the weakest element of them. It was more what the other moviemakers did with them that I thought was great.)

I wasn't as excited about Magee as some other people were though. I was pretty meh on both Life of Pi and Finding Neverland. The only one of Magee's movies that I really, really liked was Mary Poppins Returns. And similar to what I said about the Narnia movies, I think that was more due to the director and other people than to the writer.

While I did really want to see The Silver Chair movie, I couldn't help but think that the whole project sounded odd. The Silver Chair seemed like a strange book to start a whole new franchise with since it heavily involves characters from Prince Capsian and The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. Was the Mark Gordon planning on eventually doing adaptations of the three books Walden had done as prequels? It seemed like the only reason a Silver Chair movie was being attempted was that Douglas Gresham wanted to see movies of all seven Narnia books made in his lifetime. (I didn't mean that to sound like a criticism of him BTW. I feel the same way.) As much as I'd have loved a Silver Chair movie, it seemed like a really long shot. That's why I'm depressed about its stillbirth but I'm not as devastated as some fans because I'd been preparing myself for it.

It's really annoying we'll never to see David Magee's script after it had been built up so much, hearing it described as the best script for a Narnia movie yet. I really wish I could read it at least. (It may be a strange taste but I enjoy reading screenplays.) It'd be so interesting to find how they adapted the story and how the standing up to bullies thing would have played out. It might have actually been better in my imagination than it would have played out if they actually filmed it anyway.
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Re: The Silver Chair Support Group

Postby Cleander » Apr 26, 2019 3:31 am

Col Klink wrote:It's really annoying we'll never to see David Magee's script after it had been built up so much, hearing it described as the best script for a Narnia movie yet. I really wish I could read it at least. (It may be a strange taste but I enjoy reading screenplays.) It'd be so interesting to find how they adapted the story and how the standing up to bullies thing would have played out. It might have actually been better in my imagination than it would have played out if they actually filmed it anyway.


I wonder if it's at all possible that the screenplay may become available to the public someday. I agree with you, that would be a really interesting read!
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Re: The Silver Chair Support Group

Postby Reepicheep775 » Apr 26, 2019 7:15 am

Col Klink wrote:While I did really want to see The Silver Chair movie, I couldn't help but think that the whole project sounded odd. The Silver Chair seemed like a strange book to start a whole new franchise with since it heavily involves characters from Prince Capsian and The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. Was the Mark Gordon planning on eventually doing adaptations of the three books Walden had done as prequels? It seemed like the only reason a Silver Chair movie was being attempted was that Douglas Gresham wanted to see movies of all seven Narnia books made in his lifetime. (I didn't mean that to sound like a criticism of him BTW. I feel the same way.) As much as I'd have loved a Silver Chair movie, it seemed like a really long shot. That's why I'm depressed about its stillbirth but I'm not as devastated as some fans because I'd been preparing myself for it.

This pretty much sums up my feelings on it. I was more excited for David Magee than you were because I really like Life of Pi, Mary Poppins Returns, and Finding Neverland and I thought he was a great choice for Narnia, but I think this is for the best.

I was very pessimistic about SC's chances of revitalizing the film franchise as a reboot. SC works fine as a standalone story, but I don't see how you follow it up with HHB, MN, and LB without doing LWW, PC, and VDT first. If the Walden continuity is officially dead, then a total reboot, starting back from the beginning, is a much better idea than trying to compromise by doing a "sequel" that isn't in the same continuity.

Another thing I am genuinely sad about though is the fact that I may never see a Narnia film in theatres again... at least for a long time. I love the movie theatre experience and the idea of watching the new Narnia adaptations in my bedroom on my laptop just feels a little underwhelming. If the product comes out better because of it (e.g. more creative freedom under Netflix than Hollywood), it will be worth it, but it's still kind of sad.
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Re: The Silver Chair Support Group

Postby fantasia » Apr 26, 2019 8:17 am

I'm not horribly crushed on not continuing on with the Walden trilogy. VDT was not um.. well it wasn't my favorite. ;) And even with disconnecting SC and making it a stand alone film, I had a hard time envisioning it being successful. Even if it was REALLY REALLY good, I didn't think anybody but the fans would see it.
So the idea of having another chance at a full, complete, hopefully good set of seven Chronicles is very exciting to me.

On the flip side, as several of you have mentioned, I was very excited and hopeful after David Magee's interview here on NarniaWeb. I really had high hopes that he had Narnia's best interests in mind.
I was also very excited about the fact that after Joe Johnston was attached to the project, he immediately reached out to us fans to connect. Even though I wasn't sure I agreed with everything he said, his willingness to connect was very, very cool. Don't know that we'll get that with Netflix. Their projects tend to be very quiet.
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Re: The Silver Chair Support Group

Postby narnia fan 7 » Apr 27, 2019 6:27 am

While there was a point in time where I desperately wanted to see this project get made, I'm honestly not that disappointed it didn't happen. (I'm more disappointed that all the speculation ended up being for nothing.)

Sure, I was as excited about David Magee as anyone else, and probably more excited then most about Joe Johnston. But, like fantasia and Reepicheep 775, I felt the film as doomed to fail. Not just because rebooting in the middle of the series wasn't exactly a great idea, but also because I think SC would have been a one and done for Sony, I honestly don't think general audiences would have wanted to see it.

Looking back, I think the reason I wanted the film to get made had more to do with just wanting to see another Narnia film and once again going through the Narniaweb experience of following the news of production every step of the way, then of optimism of it being a good film or a good adaptation.
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Re: The Silver Chair Support Group

Postby Col Klink » Apr 27, 2019 7:44 am

I've been thinking of giving some reasons for why I wasn't quite as excited about Magee as some other people were since it might lead to good discussion or possibly even cheer people up about the project not getting made. But it seems horribly like kicking a guy when he's down or dancing on his coffin. :)) I'd like to stress that I don't think David Magee's script would have been any worse than OK and it might have been great. Like I said, I really enjoyed the majority of Walden's Narnia movies even though the screenwriters were further from the ideal for Narnia adaptations than Magee was. The "rules" they teach modern screenwriters are really different from the way Narnia was written so there probably isn't an ideal one for Narnia out there. David Magee might have been our best shot.

Having said that...

David Magee's scripts seem to be big on sentimentality and the Narnia books aren't all that sentimental philosophically. I'm not bashing sentimental writers BTW. One my favorite authors is Charles Dickens who is totally sentimental. (I will say though that my favorite of Magee's movies that I've seen is Mary Poppins Returns and its lines which I find most quotable are the unsentimental ones. The sentimental parts are...just OK, I guess.) If I recall correctly, The Life of Pi ends with the message that people should choose to believe whatever makes for the best story because that...makes life more enjoyable or something. :-?? This is pretty different tonally from the scene in LWW where the professor tells Peter and Susan they should believe Lucy's story, not because it makes them feel better, but because she has a better track record for honesty than Edmund and she isn't showing any symptoms of insanity.

Then again, Puddleglum comes pretty close to saying that people should believe whatever makes life more exciting towards the end of The Silver Chair. Maybe David Magee really was the ideal writer for that adaptation. I really wish we could see his work on it. :ymsigh:
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Re: The Silver Chair Support Group

Postby JFG II » Apr 27, 2019 8:35 am

Great points, everyone!

For myself, I mostly agreed with Glumpuddle's expectations about The Silver Chair movie: I didn't expect it to be a great movie, I didn't think Joe Johnston was an inspired-enough choice as director, I didn't think Sony, or any Hollywood studio for that matter, was willing to adapt the Narnia books without compromise. Disney didn't, so why would Sony? Glumpuddle was so right about Hollywood in general, and while Disney is growing, Sony has been sinking down every year since 2013 when the Silver Chair project was first announced.

And yet, I still wonder if a perfect storm was brewing before it all fell apart. What I mean by that is this: The Silver Chair project started out as an independent movie follow-up to the Walden trilogy, led by Douglas Gresham and Mark Gordon, with screenwriter David Magee, a year after oscar-nominated Life of Pi (which I loved). Then Sony became involved, then Joe Johnston, and suddenly I could seen the best-case scenario for this project: An unusual big-budget family movie aimed at adults who loved the Narnia books growing up, written by a classical screenwriter and directed by a Steven Spielberg prodigy, who's best films worked when he was not choked by the studios.

Then the reboot rumor began: The thing that threw me off every time was that The Silver Chair wasn't planning to have have any meaningful connection to the Walden movies. No cast members, no crew from previous movies, no nothing. Not a reboot, not a direct sequel. Just a movie starting yet another trilogy. It wasn't a decision I could support, because that would require cutting off ties with the previous stories, which would have put not only this movie, but future movies too, on life support. Joe Johnston already proved with Jurassic Park III that he cared little for continuity with previous films, and given how indifferent the reactions to Jurassic Park III were and still are, I wasn't feeling confident with the director's vision.

To conclude my rant, I wonder if this could have been a good Narnia movie. It could have been horrible. Mary Poppins Returns was good but David Magee's formulaic screenplay was not the reason to see it. The poor reaction to The Nutcracker and the Four Realms (which I haven't seen) doesn't bode well for Mark Gordon's family film instincts. But I should't judge what I haven't seen. For The Silver Chair, I shouldn't judge a project that wasn't really even conceived yet.
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Re: The Silver Chair Support Group

Postby Col Klink » Apr 27, 2019 10:44 am

I didn't expect it to be a great movie


And yet, I still wonder if a perfect storm was brewing before it all fell apart.


Yeah, that's pretty much where I'm at too. :))
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Re: The Silver Chair Support Group

Postby The Rose-Tree Dryad » Apr 27, 2019 12:47 pm

Col Klink wrote: If I recall correctly, The Life of Pi ends with the message that people should choose to believe whatever makes for the best story because that...makes life more enjoyable or something. :-??


I still don't think I know exactly what Life of Pi's message was. ;)) It is a haunting story that inspires introspection, and that was one thing (of many) that made me excited about David Magee's screenplay... I would love a haunting interpretation of Jill and Aslan by the stream, for instance; a scene that sticks with the viewer and leaves them pondering.

Now I suppose we must instead be content with being haunted by Magee's unseen script and what-could-have-been. :P

But aside from the script, I've been mostly okay with moving on. It was extremely cool when Joe Johnston did a Q&A with NarniaWeb so soon after he was announced director, but aside from his willingness to engage with fans, I was mostly curious what his Narnia would look like artistically because that seemed to be his greatest strong point... and I would rather watch a play of The Silver Chair without props or costumes that's thematically and emotionally on point than the most incredible visual journey of Narnia that lacks soul and meaning. Most of his description of The Silver Chair's themes I found wanting. So I was never over-the-moon with his attachment to the project, although I was hopeful that he would work well with Magee.

Maybe it should be harder for me to let go of this project after thinking about it so many years, but to be honest... I was quite glad to have an excuse to start thinking about the other Narnia stories for a change. ;)) I love The Silver Chair to pieces and the fact that it's been fodder for discussion for years is a testament to the depth of the story, but truth be told, I was a bit worried that I would have already hashed out my best thoughts and ideas by the time film speculation really got going. :P Being able to talk about MN and LWW, or even PC and VDT as not-too-distant possibilities, is definitely a welcome change of pace for my Narnian neurons. ;))

I agree with many of you that rebooting with The Silver Chair seemed to be an odd choice, and the more time that went on without news, the more I started thinking that a Hollywood exec would want to just reboot the entire thing... which is where we are now.

I am sad about the prospect of not seeing another Narnia film in theaters, because who doesn't love the anticipation of opening night and the fanfare of the massive screen? On the other hand, I'm also excited about the idea of Friends of Narnia parties, or being able to chat with your friends online while watching the newest episode. I'm sure Narnia fans will find a way to make it special and memorable no matter how the new films/series are released.
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Re: The Silver Chair Support Group

Postby JFG II » May 07, 2019 2:53 pm

This is just a short rant: I probably should have known, when production on The Silver Chair did not take off by 2011-2012, that the movie was not going to happen. LWW was released in Winter 2005, PC in Summer 2008 & Winter VDT in 2010. Follow that pattern. If the next four movies has been made, SC would have followed in Summer 2013, HHB in Winter 2015, MN in Summer 2018 & LB in Winter 2020. Anything over 3 years is no longer in follow up territory and now in reboot territory. Still, I wonder if there would have been some cast members returning, like Aslan or the Pevensies... End of short rant.
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Re: The Silver Chair Support Group

Postby Movie Aristotle » May 20, 2019 8:45 pm

I am disappointed. I would have liked to have seen David Magee’s script come to life. And also, whatever happened to the “Name the Lady of the Green Kirtle” competition? /:)

And I think Joe Johnston would have been a marvelous director for a Narnia story.

Sigh.
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Re: The Silver Chair Support Group

Postby narnia fan 7 » May 21, 2019 5:35 am

Movie Aristotle wrote:And also, whatever happened to the “Name the Lady of the Green Kirtle” competition? /:)

Oh yeah, I almost forgot about naming competition. ;)) That was one of the most bazaar thing I've seen following the development a movie.

They never picked a winner, and I remember screenwriter David Magee said on Twitter that they never gave LOTGK a name, and didn't plan too. Makes me wonder why they did the competition in the first place, or who's idea it was.
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Re: The Silver Chair Support Group

Postby coracle » May 21, 2019 9:07 am

Among my reasons for wanting Silver Chair to get made:

I am still hoping to get work on a Narnia film, as a child double, a creature or whatever. I'm a very short adult who gets to do a bit of acting sometimes. I also have a permanent home in New Zealand, and Joe Johnston had talked about filming there.

I know that Doug Gresham really wants to see all 7 stories filmed. If number four had been made, then the last three had a chance.

I watch the BBC serials every so often, and I think that by the time they made SC there was a much more polished and comfortable feel to them, even where they used dialogue straight from the book.

Roll on Netflix, before I am too old to stand up in a costume! :)
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Re: The Silver Chair Support Group

Postby Cleander » May 21, 2019 2:09 pm

coracle wrote:Among my reasons for wanting Silver Chair to get made:

I am still hoping to get work on a Narnia film, as a child double, a creature or whatever. I'm a very short adult who gets to do a bit of acting sometimes. I also have a permanent home in New Zealand, and Joe Johnston had talked about filming there.


Best of luck with that! Do you think Netflix will film in New Zealand?
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