Warner Bros. has set an official release date for Wonka, a Charlie and the Chocolate Factory prequel that tells the origin story of eccentric candy maker Willy Wonka. Per the studio, the movie will follow a "young Willy Wonka and his adventures prior to opening the world's most famous chocolate factory." Scheduled to release on March 17, 2023, the movie comes from Paddington director Paul King and Harry Potter producer David Heyman.
As the project is still in the early stages of development, no actors have yet been attached to play the titular chocolate salesman, but a couple of top names are in the rumor mill. According to Collider, the studio is eyeing either Tom Holland (Spider-Man: Far From Home) or Timothée Chalamet (Dune) for the part. The outlet also notes that neither has yet been officially offered the part, but that these two names are at the top of the producers' wish list.
Willy Wonka was created by Roald Dahl and first appeared in the 1964 novel Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. In the classic tale, Wonka hides five Golden Tickets in his chocolate bars with the lucky winners given a trip to his factory with a personal tour. After testing the moral character of each of the children, Wonka reveals that he is retiring and has named a young boy named Charlie to be his successor. Dahl continued the story in the 1972 follow-up book Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator.
Dahl's original novel was famously adapted as the movie Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory in 1971. Gene Wilder played Wonka in the movie with Peter Ostrum co-starring as Charlie Bucket. With a plot very similar to the source material, it has garnered a large cult following in the decades since its release and was later selected for preservation by the Library of Congress. In recent years, the movie returned to the mainstream with an image of Wilder as Wonka inspiring the popular "Condescending Wonka" internet meme.
Johnny Depp would take over the role of Willy Wonka in director Tim Burton's 2005 movie Charlie and the Chocolate Factory with a young Freddie Highmore also starring as Charlie. The movie was also a big hit at the box office and has built a big following of its own, serving as one of Depp's most memorable performances. The plot was largely the same as the novel and the previous movie, but Depp's take on Willy is drastically different compared to Wilder's portrayal.
News of Willy Wonka getting another movie was first announced in 2018 when THR reported on King's involvement. The news came shortly after the release of King's highly-successful sequel Paddington 2 in theaters. At the time, very little else was revealed about Wonka, though it was also reported that Simon Rich (An American Pickle) wrote the script.
It was also revealed in 2018 that Netflix was working on plans to adapt some of the literary works of Dahl into animated series. This includes a Charlie and the Chocolate Factory series developed by Taika Waititi along with a spinoff focusing on the Oompa Loompas. The streamer also plans to make a series based on the sequel novel Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator, which would be the first adaptation of the book. It's not yet clear when any of these shows might arrive.
Wonka will be released by Warner Bros. on March 17, 2023. This news comes to us from Collider.