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Netflix Is Turning ‘Matilda,’ ‘The BFG,’ Other Roald Dahl Stories Into Animated Series & Specials

Netflix announced Tuesday that it will produce an extensive slate of original animated “event” series and specials based on the books and stories of British author Roald Dahl.

The various animation projects will be based on some of Dahl’s most popular works including Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Matilda, The BFG, and The Twits, among others. Other well known titles such as James and the Giant Peach, Danny the Champion of the World, and Fantastic Mr. Fox were not named in the announcement.

The deal, announced with The Roald Dahl Story Company, promises high-production values for “premium animated event series and specials for audiences of all ages and for families to enjoy together.” The streamer says that it plans to remain faithful to the “quintessential spirit and tone of Dahl” while “building out an imaginative story universe that expands far beyond the pages of the books themselves.”

“Our mission, which is purposefully lofty, is for as many children as possible around the world to experience the unique magic and positive message of Roald Dahl’s stories,” said Roald Dahl’s widow, Felicity Dahl. “This partnership with Netflix marks a significant move toward making that possible and is an incredibly exciting new chapter for the Roald Dahl Story Company. Roald would, I know, be thrilled.”

Even by Netflix standards of making ambitious animation announcements, the Dahl deal sounds like a massive undertaking. There is a clear effort by Netflix to not cede its advantage in the family streaming space as Disney prepares to launch its Disney+ streaming service next year. It’s a significant advantage too; the service has previously said that 60% of its subscribers — around 82 million households — watch kids and family content monthly.

While Netflix has already demonstrated a commitment to developing entirely original content, the Dahl deal gives it access to proven stories and characters that have already been successful in various formats beyond their book origins, including as feature films and musical play adaptations.

“We are grateful for the trust the Roald Dahl Story Company and the Dahl family have placed in our team to deliver more moments of shared joy to families around the world,” said Melissa Cobb, vice president of kids & family content at Netflix. “We have great creative ambition to reimagine the journeys of so many treasured Dahl characters in fresh, contemporary ways with the highest quality animation and production values.”

Production is set to commence on the first of the Netflix Dahl animated series in 2019. The list of titles in the agreement between Netflix and the Roald Dahl Story Company includes:

  • Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
  • Matilda
  • The BFG
  • The Twits
  • Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator
  • George’s Marvellous Medicine
  • Boy – Tales of Childhood
  • Going Solo
  • The Enormous Crocodile
  • The Giraffe and the Pelly and Me
  • Henry Sugar
  • Billy and the Minpins
  • The Magic Finger
  • Esio Trot
  • Dirty Beasts
  • Rhyme Stew

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