The Charlie and the Chocolate Factory spinoff movie Wonka has gotten a release date of March 17, 2023. Warner Bros. has had Wonka in development for some time but is now moving forward with production, eyeing a proposed shooting start with the next four months - or in the first quarter of 2021. Wonka producer David Heyman (Fantastic Beasts) is still attached, as is writer Simon Rich, who has been working with Heyman on this since 2016. Paddington director Paul King will be directing Wonka. It's been confirmed that the film will act as a prequel to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and follow Willy Wonka's formative years prior to opening his candy factory.
Back in 2019, Heyman teased ideas for how Wonka will tell its story, while talking to Collider:
“We are still trying to figure out how to tell that story, what the story is. It’s a prequel, it’s not a sequel. What makes Willy—when we find him at the chocolate factory doing the golden ticket, where is he before that? What leads him to that place where he’s locked himself away? It’s how does he get there? So we’re playing around with that.
It’s not a remake. They’ve done two films, quite different. But it’s possibly an origin story. We’re just in the early stages of it... It’s challenging because you don’t have Dahl, you don’t have a Dahl book, and yet you have a Dahl character.
But I think there’s a lot in his character that suggests who he is and also where he might come from or what his childhood or his middle age might have been like. So we’re exploring that. We’re discussing it. We’re in the very early stages and very excited about what lies ahead."
The Charlie and the Chocolate Factory books, and both the 1971 and 2005 films have made references to Willy Wonka's childhood and strange adventures - but no story has really conveyed the odd epicness of his life. Wonka has a lot of fun ground to build on.
Disney found moderate success with its attempt at a Wizard of Oz prequel film for the Wizard, with James Franco taking on the role. Oz the Great and Powerful cost big bucks ($200+ million) and didn't manage to crack half a billion at the worldwide box office ($493.3M). That sort of stalled any plans to make a bigger franchise; and yet, a more recent example like Disney's Maleficent films show the concept can work (at least for villains)
Have audiences been asking for something like Wonka? No. But thanks to HBO Max streaming, it's certainly a much more viable property to pursue.