Nearing the end of their (Nerds) rope, Warner Bros. has confirmed that they’re moving forward with Wonka, a prequel to the story adapted from Roald Dahl’s iconic 1964 book Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, focusing on the early days of everyone’s favorite chocolatier Willy Wonka.
The script by Simon Rich has been circulating since 2016, with producer David Heyman also attached to Wonka for as long a time. Long rumored for the film, Paddington director Paul King, is attached to direct.
Dahl’s book has, of course, been adapted for the screen multiple times, with Gene Wilder’s all-time-great turn in 1971’s Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory and Johnny Depp’s reimagining in 2005’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory vying for the nostalgia chunk of your brain. Little has been said by Warner Bros. on the upcoming prequel’s relationship to either film, though I would speculate that Wonka takes more from Dahl’s original text than any of the screen adaptations.
Wonka isn’t the only Roald Dahl project gestating, with Robert Zemeckis’ recent spin on The Witches for HBO Max, and Netflix looking to adapt several of his classic stories for their platform. At Netflix, both Chocolate Factory and its sequel, Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator, are being adapted into animated series, with Taika Waititi working to write and direct both of those.
Casting is underway for the young Willy Wonka, though that will be a fun role to see brought to life. Cynicism at the tiredness of Hollywood’s ideas aside, the crew involved with Wonka seems to have had a keen eye for bringing children’s movies and quality to the screen, so it’s with a genuine curiosity that I peg myself down as eager to dive into the chocolate river of the prequel. Though there will be time to chew it over, with Wonka set for a March 17, 2023 release. Don’t let your chocolate melt.