Sony’s upcoming ‘Narnia: The Silver Chair’ may be classed as a fresh start to the cinematic franchise based on CS Lewis’ beloved books – but it will be the end of an era for director Joe Johnston.
Appearing at Paris Comic Con, 67-year old Johnston announced that ‘The Silver Chair’ will mark his retirement from filmmaking after a long and varied career.
The director remarked, “I think I’m ready to go do something else. I have a lot of dogs, and they demand long walks every day, in the country.”
Johnston also confirmed that ‘The Silver Chair’ is set to shoot in New Zealand next year, estimating it should complete post-production in 2019, although Sony have not confirmed a release date at present.
Explaining his attraction to the material, Johnston noted, “It’s a little bit darker than the other Narnia films. I think The Silver Chair was the darkest of the books. It’s classic literature, really.
“I think the work of C.S. Lewis is amazing, even though they were written for children, it’s classic literature, and I just thought that this would be fun. I love New Zealand, too.”
While this is the first Narnia movie to be produced by Sony, Johnston says ‘The Silver Chair’ should be considered “the fourth film in the series,” following on from director Andrew Adamson’s ‘The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe’ (2005) and ‘Prince Caspian’ (2008), and Michael Apted’s ‘The Voyage of the Dawn Treader’ (2010).
Johnston broke into film as a protege of George Lucas, getting his first work as a visual effects artist on the original ‘Star Wars’ trilogy, as well as ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark.’
He advanced to directing with 1989 family favourite ‘Honey, I Shrunk the Kids,’ 1991’s ‘The Rocketeer’ (a box office disappointment which has since become a cult classic), and 1994’s ‘The Pagemaster.’ However, his best-loved work is almost certainly 1995’s ‘Jumanji,’ for which a belated sequel is on the way.
Later, Johnston was entrusted to take over from Steven Spielberg as director of ‘Jurassic Park III,’ then went on to western ‘Hidalgo,’ horror movie ‘The Wolfman,’ and early Marvel movie ‘Captain America: The First Avenger.’ His most recent feature was 2014 thriller ‘Not Safe For Work.’