Warner Bros. has acquired the film rights to Willy Wonka from the Roald Dahl Estate, with plans to reboot the franchise under the guidance of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them producer David Heyman.
Heyman will produce the new film. Michael Siegel, the manager of the Dahl Estate, will serve as executive producer alongside Kevin McCormick. Simon Rich, the writer of The Secret Lifes of pets, is taking the first pass at the script.
According to Variety, the film will be a prequel to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, the 1964 Dahl book that was twice adapted to film, once with Gene Wilder as Wonka, and again in 2005 with Johnny Depp. The reboot film will not be a Willy Wonka origin story but will tell a standalone story set during the early years of Wonka’s career.
Dahl wrote two novels that featured Willy Wonka - Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was the first, and it was followed by Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator in 1972 – but neither featured Wonka in a starring role.
There’s been no indication either way about what other characters from Dahl’s novels may appear in the new movie, but it is clear that a successful first outing could lead to a whole franchise of Wonka movies.
Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory is the 1971 film that featured Gene Wilder, who died in this August, in the role of Willy Wonka. While only a modest success in its initial theatrical run, Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory became a whimsical fantasy favorite over the years, largely thanks to Wilder's performance and frequent airing on television.
Tim Burton provided a new adaptation in 2005, using the original book title of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Burton cast Johnny Depp in the role of the mercurial chocolatier, and his vision skewed closer to the dark, cautionary tone of Dah's original novels.