I have to agree with the rationale in today’s Guardian (UK). Walden’s decision to go with The Magician’s Nephew as the next Narnia movie makes perfect sense when you consider most of the audience doesn’t really care about the franchise past The Lion, the Witch,and the Wardrobe.
As a fan of the books, I had hoped the movie-makers would continue to produce the films in the order the books were published. But Walden has more to consider than my hopes or expectations, and those of the fan base. Stuart Heritage explains it well in the Guardian article.
As the producers are starting to realise, the main problem with adapting the whole Narnia series is that most casual audiences only really care about The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. After that, they start to lose interest. And by the time they get to the book about the monkey that plays a trick on a donkey, they couldn’t really give a stuff. Perhaps by making The Magician’s Nephew – essentially The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe: How It All Began – Walden can breathe some life back into the series. Maybe even enough to go back and appease hardcore Narnia fans by making that horse-based Moses allegory they’re all so desperate for.
Heritage wonders if certain other franchises would have benefited by making their stories “out of order” or skipping certain episode altogether.
What fans need to come to terms with is not what is important to you as an individual, but to the franchise as a whole. Would you rather see The Silver Chair made next and flop—virtually assuring the death of the series—or The Magician’s Nephew—which has a much more reasonable chance for success?