After helping build the “Harry Potter” franchise and rebooting it with “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them,” producer David Heyman and Warner Bros. are re-teaming to revive another classic character.
Sources tell Variety that Warner Bros. has acquired the rights to the “Willy Wonka” IP from the Roald Dahl Estate and is planning a new movie centered around the eccentric character.
Heyman will produce with Michael Siegel, who is the manager of the Dahl Estate. Kevin McCormick is exec producing. “The Secret Life of Pets” scribe Simon Rich is penning the script. Courtenay Valenti and Jon Gonda are overseeing the project for the studio.
Sources reveal that the film will not be an origin tale, but a standalone movie focused on Wonka and his early adventures. It’s unknown who from the original book series, other than Wonka, will be involved in the project. If the reboot is a hit, it seems likely that characters like Charlie could be seen in future installments of a possible franchise.
The studio has been trying to lock down rights from the Dahl Estate since the beginning of the year and finally closed a deal earlier this fall. Dahl penned two books in which Wonka appeared — the 1964 novel “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” and the 1972 book “Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator” — but never wrote anything focused specifically on the Wonka character.
“Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” has since been adapted into two feature films, most recently by Warner Bros. in 2005 with Tim Burton directing and Johnny Depp starring as Wonka. The original Willy Wonka, Gene Wilder, died on Aug. 29.
Warner Bros.’ musical adaptation of “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” playing on the West End since 2013, will open on Broadway in April.