Walden Media has confirmed to The Christian Post that the Narnia 4 movie will be "The Magician's Nephew," not "The Silver Chair" as originally speculated by many fans.
"We are starting to talk to Fox and talk to the C.S. Lewis estate now about the Magician's Nephew being our next film," said Michael Flaherty, co-founder and president of Walden Media, during a recent interview with The Christian Post.
"If we can all agree to move forward, then what we would do is find someone to write the script. So, it could still be a couple of years."
For the past several months, many Narnia fans were worried whether "Voyage of the Dawn Treader" could muster the box office numbers needed for Walden to produce another movie installment based on the beloved Chronicles of Narnia series.
"Dawn Treader" had a weak start in the domestic markets, taking in an underwhelming $24.5 million during the opening weekend in December and now grossing about $107 million. For a 3-D movie that costed $155 million, that isn't good news.
However, the third Narnia installment, which was directed by Michael Apted, has fared better overseas. It recently surpassed the $300 million mark in foreign markets, bringing the box office total close to "Prince Caspian's" $419 million, but still much less than "Wardrobe's" $745 million in earnings worldwide.
"That one (Dawn Treader) was a slow burn. It took a while for it to catch on. It did much better overseas for us but it finally ended up in a good place," said Flaherty.
The Magician's Nephew is the sixth book in the seven-title children's book series by C.S. Lewis. The story, a prequel to the popular The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe book, is about the creation of the magical land of Narnia and how evil entered into the newly formed land. The tale also follows Professor Kirke from the "Wardrobe" as a young boy (Digory) and his introduction to Narnia through a magical ring given to him by his evil Uncle Andrew, a magician.
Flaherty called The Magician's Nephew his favorite book after The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.
"I love the Magician's Nephew because it's a great origins story. You get to learn so much about where the wardrobe came from, where the lamppost came from, where Narnia came from," he said.
The first two Narnia films were produced by Disney, which severed the partnership with Walden after "Prince Caspian" posted disappointing results.
Flaherty attributed "Caspian's" dismal performance to a poorly timed summer release and the story's bent on deeper theological principles like waiting on God's timing. He said that Walden has since learned a Christmas release would probably work best with a Narnia film and not to neglect the faith market.
Looking ahead, Walden Media believes "The Magician's Nephew" has the potential to be a blockbuster hit like "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" because it is the second most popular book in the Narnia series.
Flaherty explained that box office performance for Narnia films appears to mimic the amount of people's interest in the books.
"What's interesting is that the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe over this period of time sold twice as many books as Prince Caspian and it did twice as much at the box office. Prince Caspian sold a third of the books as Dawn Treader and did a third at the box office," he noted.
"So while it's not always a correlation between books to film, so far with these first three films, it has been."