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Film News Roundup: ‘Willy Wonka’ Reboot in the Works With ‘Paddington’ Director

In today’s film news roundup, the director of the “Paddington” films is in talks for a “Willy Wonka” reboot, Wizard World and Sony Pictures form a partnership, and documentary “Calling All Earthlings” gets distribution. 

WONKA DEAL

Warner Bros. is in talks with Paul King, director of the two “Paddington” movies, to helm a reboot of “Willy Wonka,” based on Roald Dahl’s classic children’s book “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.”

The project is being produced by David Heyman, producer of the “Paddington” and Harry Potter movies. Simon Rich wrote the new script.

“Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” published in 1964, centers on 11-year-old Charlie Bucket and the legendary and eccentric chocolatier, Willy Wonka, who has decided to re-open his factory and allows five children to come on a tour of the factory after finding a golden ticket in a Wonka Bar.

Gene Wilder portrayed Wonka in the 1971 film adaptation titled “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.” Johnny Depp played him in the 2005 adaptation, titled “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.”

King’s “Paddington 2” stars Sally Hawkins and Hugh Grant and was released by Warner Bros., which bought the North American rights from the troubled Weinstein Company. The movie has a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and has grossed $205 million worldwide to date. King is repped by WME.

Popular on Variety

WIZARD PARTNERSHIP

Fan convention specialist Wizard World and Sony Pictures Entertainment are teaming up to develop movies, TV, and location-based entertainment projects.

Jeffrey Godsick, executive VP of brand strategy and global partnerships for Sony Pictures Consumer Marketing, will oversee the relationship for the studio. Wizard World and Sony Pictures will option and develop original intellectual property from top talent, optioning their work to incubate and develop these stories into various media.

“As Wizard World continues to grow its brand across the globe, we see IP development as only the first step in the relationship,” Godsick said. “There are tremendously talented artists and storytellers presenting their properties at the conventions, and this relationship with Wizard World will afford us direct and early access to what might turn out to the next great idea for a film.”

UFO PROJECT

Freestyle Digital Media, the digital film distribution division of Byron Allen’s Entertainment Studios, has acquired North American rights to the UFO conspiracy-themed documentary, “Calling All Earthlings.”

The movie will premiere in select theaters simultaneously with VOD and EST across cable, internet, and satellite platforms through Freestyle Digital Media in July. Arena Cinelounge is handling the North American theatrical distribution.

Produced and directed by Jonathan Berman, “Calling All Earthlings” explores one of the first UFO cults, led by George Van Tassel, who combines alien technology with Tesla science to build a rejuvenation machine called The Integratron. The story is told by current residents of Joshua Tree, Calif.

“’Calling All Earthlings’ is the trifecta of documentaries — it combines UFO conspiracy theories, cult-like devotion, and a spiritual quest to understand the great unknown,” Rachel Koehler, acquisitions director for Freestyle Digital Media, said.

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