The works of Roald Dahl (including Willy Wonka) are getting new animated life from Netflix, and they’ve found just the perfect ingredient for a golden ticket. That ingredient is Korg himself; acclaimed New Zealand filmmaker Taika Waititi.
Netflix announced (via Variety) that they have brought onboard Waititi to write, direct, and produce two original animated series, both based on the classic Roald Dahl children’s book Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. The first will be based around the world and characters of the book, while the second is purely focused on the Oompa-Loompas. Similar to Netflix’s Green Eggs and Ham, these shows are intended to expand beyond the pages of the source material while also maintaining it’s whimsical tone and spirit.
First published in 1964, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is the number-one selling story of Dahl’s career with over 300 million copies worldwide, and one sold every 2.5 seconds. It even spawned a 1972 sequel titled Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator.
Before the Netflix announcement, the book has been adapted to screen three times, including the 1971 classic Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory starring Gene Wilder, the 2005 Tim Burton adaptation with Johnny Depp, and a bizarre animated Tom & Jerry crossover with the 1971 film in 2017.
A native of New Zealand, Waititi started climbing the ranks with his local hit movies like Eagle vs. Shark, Boy, What We Do in the Shadows, and Hunt for the Wilderpeople. He later broke out as Hollywood sensation, as he became the director of Marvel’s Thor: Ragnarok, and his World War II satire Jojo Rabbit. The latter of which won him an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay.
On the TV side, Waititi has directed four episodes of HBO’s Flight of the Conchords, and “Chapter 8: Redemption” of the Disney+ Star Wars series The Mandalorian. He was also recently involved in executive-producing the mockumentary horror series Wellington Paranormal, and the What We Do in the Shadows spinoff series for FX, both with his frequent collaborator Jermaine Clement.
Charlie isn’t the only Dahl story getting the Netflix treatment, as this is the beginning of an extensive partnership between the streaming giant and the Roald Dahl Story Company. Reimaginings of other beloved Dahl stories like Matilda, The BFG, The Twits, and others are soon to follow too.
Netflix’s vice president of original animation Melissa Cobb and RDSC commercial and entertainment director Gideon Simeloff issued the following statement in the press release:
“I grew up reading Dahl stories and lived large parts of my young life in those magical worlds, so finding just the right creative partner to bring Willy Wonka, Charlie and the Oompa-Loompas to life in animation was a daunting task… until Taika walked into the room. Then, it was really obvious. If Dahl had created a character of a filmmaker to adapt his work, I’m pretty sure he would have created Taika.”Melissa Cobb, Vice President of Original Animation, Netflix
“In the words of Willy Wonka himself – we are ‘Delighted! Charmed! Overjoyed!’ with Taika’s appointment on this project. There is something undeniably Wonka-esque about Taika’s creative flair and inimitable sense of humor and we cannot think of anyone more perfectly suited to leading the creative charge on these first of their kind, feature quality Netflix shows.”Gideon Simeloff, Commercial and Entertainment Director, Roald Dahl Story Company
Aside from that Tom & Jerry/Willy Wonka crossover, animated projects based on Dahl’s works have existed in the past, most notably in stop-motion with Henry Selick’s James and the Giant Peach, and Wes Anderson’s Oscar-nominated Fantastic Mr. Fox. Additionally, there was also Magic Light/Triggerfish’s computer-animated Revolting Rhymes (which won an Annie for Best Animated Special Production), and the hand-drawn 1989 TV adaption of The BFG. The latter was notable for having the blessing of Dahl himself (keep in mind he disliked the Gene Wilder Wonka movie).
These new Roald Dahl series will be joining Netflix’s ambitious lineup of original animated projects, alongside the likes of Sergio Pablos’ Klaus, Kris Pearn’s The Willoughbys, and Glen Keane’s Over The Moon.