Warner Brothers has been working on getting a ‘Willy Wonka’ prequel off the ground for a couple of years now, but it now appears that the project is inching closer to fruition. David Heyman of the ‘Harry Potter’ and ‘Fantastic Beasts’ franchises is attached to produce, with ‘Paddington’ and ‘Paddington 2”s Paul King lined up to direct. In June, word emerged that Warner Brothers was eyeing Ryan Gosling, Donald Glover or Ezra Miller for the lead role. This is after word emerged last year that Gosling was reportedly interested.
“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.”
The novel ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’ by Roald Dahl has been adapted twice– first in 1971’s ‘Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory’, directed by Mel Stuart and starring Gene Wilder, then in 2005 in Tim Burton’s ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’ which starred Johnny Depp.
Unlike either of those, however, Warner Brothers’ new picture doesn’t have the luxury of being based on an existing story. Former ‘Saturday Night Live’ writer Simon Rich, who previously contributed to the script of Disney’s ‘Inside Out’ is apparently working on the script, but he is also the creator of the upcoming TBS series ‘Miracle Workers’ starring Steve Buscemi and Daniel Radcliffe, so it’s unclear how much attention he is devoting to the ‘Wonka’ script. Along the same lines, King is about to start work on a live action version of ‘Pinocchio’ for Disney.
Though Dahl never explained Wonka’s backstory, Burton included a subplot that depicted Wonka’s estranged father as a dentist, played by Christopher Lee, in his version.
Check back for any ‘Wonka’ news as it emerges.