David Heyman, the producer behind Harry Potter, Paddington and the upcoming Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, is teaming up with Warner Bros. to bring a new series of Willy Wonka stories to the big screen. Variety reports that Warner Bros. has acquired the rights to the Willy Wonka character from the Roald Dahl estate and first in line is a movie centred on Willy Wonka and his early adventures. There are hopes for a possible new movie franchise if the film takes off.
David Heyman will produce with Roald Dahl Estate manager Michael Siegel, and The Secret Life of Pets scribe Simon Rich is penning the script.
Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory has been adapted twice for the big screen. Mel Stuart’s Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory is often touted as the ‘classic’ version, with the amazing performance from Gene Wilder maintaining it as a fan favourite. However it did deviate from the book, with a different title and ending, and Roald Dahl himself hated the film, thinking it placed too much emphasis on Wonka and not enough on Charlie. Dahl refused to allow another adaptation during his lifetime. After Dahl’s death Tim Burton took on Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, released in 2005, an eccentric adaptation which Gene Wilder called “an insult“.
Burton’s version went through three scripts, with Michael Siegel saying that while the estate liked John August’s script, the were “queasy that he went into Wilber Wonka”, a series of flashbacks telling the story of Willy Wonka’s childhood. The family eventually decided to give their full support and the legendary Christopher Lee played Wilber Wonka, Willy’s dentist father who deprived him of sweets, in scenes which absolutely made the film. Fans are still divided over Johnny Depp’s bizarre portrayal, but is really is closer to the madman of the chocolate factory than Gene Wilder’s more charming performance, if a little soft-spoken. In any case, anticipation for who will play the next Willy Wonka should be building already.