Netflix's 'Chronicles of Narnia' Finds Its Creative Architect With 'Coco' Co-Writer Matthew Aldrich (Exclusive)

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe-Mattew Aldrich-Publicity -Split-H 2019
HarperCollins; Debby Coleman
The streaming giant is adapting the C.S. Lewis fantasy books into movies and series.

Matthew Aldrich, the co-writer of Pixar’s Oscar-winning film Coco, has been crowned as overseer of Netflix’s expansive adaptation of The Chronicles of Narnia.

The streaming giant is tackling the fantasy books by C.S. Lewis as both series and film, with Aldrich to serve as the creative architect on all projects. He will shepherd all development and creative on the multiple adaptations.   

Chronicles of Narnia consists of seven books, all set in the fantastical land of Narnia and originally published in the 1950s. The best known of the novels, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, follows four children who are evacuated to the British countryside during the London air raids during World War II. In their new home, they discover a wardrobe that leads them to Narnia, a land in danger from the villainous White Queen, and to Aslan, a talking lion.

The books have been adapted numerous times via stage, television and radio. The most recent, and most expensive, undertaking occurred in the 2000s when Walden Media spearheaded a trio of big-screen adaptations that were first released by Disney and then Fox.

A new set of movies were to be developed in the 2010s, but those plans were dropped when Netflix made a multiyear deal with the C.S. Lewis Company in late 2018. The plan calls for a wide-range of stories from across the Narnia landscape told in a set of movies and at least one series.

Netflix conducted a wide-ranging search to find its architect, with Aldrich winning the multi-level job. The writer, repped by CAA and Silent R Management, is best known for his work as co-writer on Coco, the 2017 Pixar/Disney fantasy adventure set during Mexico's Day of the Dead that grossed over $800 million worldwide and won the Academy Award for best animated feature.

It is unclear how the multiple projects will co-exist or stand together.

All series and films produced via the Netflix deal will see Mark Gordon of Entertainment One, as well as Douglas Gresham and Vincent Sieber, act as executive producers for the series and producers for the feature films. 

Narnia is one of Netflix’s big bets in the branded sphere as well as in the fantasy genre, both areas of intense competition among not just studios but streaming rivals. Amazon is developing adaptations of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings series, for example. And both companies have spent dozens of millions of dollars just for the film rights for these venerable books.