Narnia is rebooted for big screen but minus Liam Neeson's voice
The world of Narnia is to return to the silver screen soon - but it looks like Ballymena acting star Liam Neeson will not be voicing Aslan this time.
The series of movies based on the classic Narnia Chronicles by Belfast-born CS Lewis has been in limbo for the past few years after Walden Media lost the rights, even though the first three films grossed more than $1.5bn at the box office.
Producer Mark Gordon said Narnia would return to cinemas "very shortly" with an adaptation of The Silver Chair, but it will be a reboot with original characters, suggesting none of the cast of the first three movies will return.
He added the film was in active development and he hoped to begin production in the near future.
The three-part series began in 2005 with The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe, followed by 2008's Prince Caspian, and 2010's The Voyage Of The Dawn Treader. However, Walden Media lost the rights, seeing the scrapping of the planned sequel, The Magician's Nephew.
The Mark Gordon Company and The CS Lewis Company took over the rights in 2013, announcing plans for The Silver Chair adaptation, with Life Of Pi writer David Magee hired to script it.
Since then there has been little news. However, Gordon has now confirmed that Narnia is definitely returning to cinemas.
"We're hoping to be able to make the movie very shortly," he said. "It's all going to be a brand new franchise. All original. All original characters, different directors and an entire new team that this is coming from."
He confirmed the new characters would come from the world of Narnia, however, it looks like there will be no return for Will Poulter as Eustace - one of the main characters - Ben Barnes as Caspian, Liam Neeson as Aslan, Peter Dinklage as Trumpkin and Tilda Swinton as the White Witch.
The Silver Chair takes place decades after the last encounter with Caspian in the Voyage Of The Dawn Treader, at the end of which Lucy and Edmund were told they could not return to Narnia.
In it Aslan enlists the help of Eustace, who teams up with his schoolmate Jill Pole to journey into the far north of Narnia in search of the missing Prince Rillian, only child of King Caspian.
Welcoming the news, CS Lewis expert Sandy Smith said: "It's understandable that it's going to be a different cast. It will get a great reception when it's done.
"Liam Neeson didn't really appear as one of the characters - he was the voice of Aslan. But other people did this in the BBC adaptation and in the cartoon before it, so it's an ever-changing scene."
If the filmmakers decide not to remake the first three films, they will still have three more Narnia books to adapt - The Horse And His Boy, The Magician's Nephew and The Last Battle.