Hollywood is pretty good at delivering things that seemingly nobody wants, but there is one project currently in development that seems to take the cake. It was announced a few weeks ago that Warner Bros. had acquired the rights to the character of Willy Wonka from the Roald Dahl estate. Now, producer David Heyman is working on a prequel movie involving the beloved character.
When it was first announced, very little was known about how the story for this new Willy Wonka movie would be told. In a recent interview with /Film, David Heyman gave an update about it and what we might be able to expect in terms of story. Here is what he had to say.
"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, working with a writer called Simon Rich, which is wonderful. I'm a huge Roald Dahl fan. I've been trying to work on Dahl material for quite some time but they're all tied up. So when this was suggested, I didn't take a moment to pause and want to jump right in."
So it seems like Willy Wonka may be getting an origin story. One could argue that a large part of the charm of the character has to do with the mystery associated with him. On the other hand, there are certainly a lot of questions that could use answering. Even if many people don't want to see the legacy of the character tarnished, David Heyman does seem passionate about it. He talked a bit about the challenges associated with making this Willy Wonka movie and what it might explore.
"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."
Roald Dahl wrote two different books featuring the character of Willy Wonka. The first being 1964's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and 1972's Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator. He didn't ever write a book about Willy Wonka on his own, so like David Heyman said, there is no direct source material for this new movie. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was adapted for the big screen twice. First, 1971's Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, starring the late Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka, and 2005's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, starring Johnny Depp. The first is considered an all time classic and the Tim Burton version is, well it isn't.
Gene Wilder passed away at the age of 83 back in August and the announcement of this new Willy Wonka Prequel movie came very shortly after. That being the case and because Gene Wilder was so beloved, some took it as a bit of a slap in the face to his legacy. That is understandable, but this movie most certainly appears to be happening despite that. Hopefully, because it will be a younger version of Willy Wonka it will be easier to disassociate it with Gene Wilder, but that still doesn't guarantee Warner Bros. can come up with a story worth telling in the eyes of fans. There is no word yet on when we might see this Willy Wonka origin story because it is still in the early stages, but we will be sure to keep you updated as more information becomes available.