We're about to return to a world of pure imagination. It's been reported that a Willy Wonka prequel movie is on the way. Variety states that the project, simply called Wonka, will be brought to us by Paddington director Paul King. Already, we've got very good vibes about this one.
The Roald Dahl character was famously brought to life by Gene Wilder in the 1971 movie Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Years later, in 2005, Johnny Depp took over the role in Tim Burton's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (named directly after Roald Dahl's source novel).
Warner Bros and producer David Heyman will be collaborating on the project, having spun gold out of the Harry Potter franchise. (Heyman also produced the two Paddington films.) Exact plot details are unknown but Variety indicates "the upcoming adaptation will center on Willy Wonka’s earlier days prior to operating his elaborate house of confectionary creation".
The Tim Burton movie already deviated somewhat from the Dahl canon. It refashioned Wonka as a brilliant but emotionally troubled recluse who is pining for his estranged dentist father (played by the late Christopher Lee in a rare sympathetic role). Nevertheless, it's Wilder's performance that continues to generate the fondest reactions, blending the mad-eyed craziness of his Mel Brooks collaborations with, ultimately, a heartwarming and gracious side.
Throw Paul King into the mix and we have the possibility of something truly terrific. The two Paddington films stayed true to the whimsy of the Michael Bond source material, fashioning an escapist view of London that nevertheless zinged with gentle multicultural awareness. Ben Whishaw's mellifluous tones as Paddington were a perfect fit for the character, and a host of scene-stealing performances were unleashed across the course of the two films. (Most notably, Hugh Grant's preening, failed actor Phoenix Buchanan in Paddington 2.)
Wonka has been dated for release on 17th March 2023. And it gets better. Collider has started the rumour mill with the suggestion that Timothée Chalamet and Tom Holland are being linked to the role of Wonka.