Warner Bros. will, once again, reboot the Willy Wonka film franchise, teaming with the director of the wonderful Paddington 2.

News Joseph Baxter

Feb 13, 2018

Willy Wonka is a name that remains synonymous with fun, eccentricity, and delicious candy, even to a generation filled with device-fixated youths, stemming back to the novels of Roald Dahl. The passing of star Gene Wilder in 2016 only cemented a perennial appreciation for the lighthearted fun and innocence that was 1971’s Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Warner Bros. acquired the rights to Willy Wonka in 2016 and plans are in motion for a franchise-minded reboot. While the film will reportedly forgo the origin route, it will chronicle Wonka’s “early adventures.” Such an idea leaves the project open to interpretation, either focusing on the early life of Willy Wonka or, perhaps, simply on his rise to prominence in becoming a kingpin of candy. At this point, nothing has been revealed regarding which Wonka characters (Oompa Loompas, Slugworth/Wilkinson, etc.) would appear in the film.    

Warner will apparently place the project in some reliable hands with producer David Heyman, whose work speaks for itself, since it happens to include all the films of the Harry Potter franchise, including the Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them movies, as well as the Oscar-winning 2013 space drama Gravity. Heyman will work alongside Michael Siegel of the Dahl Estate and executive producer Kevin McCormick. Paul King, the director of two wonderful Paddington movies, is on board to direct (via THR). This is great news, as long as it doesn’t get in the way of him making Paddington 3. The script has been written by Simon Rich, a former writer for Saturday Night Live, who also co-wrote the animated hit film The Secret Life of Pets.

Dahl’s 1964 novel Charlie and the Chocolate Factory inspired the 1971 classic Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. While Dahl parlayed the film’s momentum with the 1972 novel sequel Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator, a proper film sequel never manifested. However, a darker, quirkier 2005 reboot film directed by Tim Burton starring Johnny Depp as Wonka sporting the proper Charlie and the Chocolate Factory title had little impact on an audience whose incredulity was as hard as a signature Wonka Everlasting Gobstopper.  

There will undoubtedly be resistance to the idea that yet another rebooted iteration of Willy Wonka has been placed on an industry pipeline already full of reboots. However, in the very least, it will be interesting to see if Warner can learn from the tonal mistakes made by the Burton/Depp version, hopefully coming up with a film that properly captures the property’s “world of pure imagination.”