The Roald Dahl Cinematic Universe is taking shape.
Over a year after Netflix announced that it would create new shows based on the British author’s stories, acclaimed writer-director Taika Waititi has been attached to the first two series.
Here are the details:
Waititi will write, direct, and executive produce two original animated series around Dahl properties. The first is “based on the world and characters of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.” The second is “a wholly original take on the Oompa-Loompas,” the laborers in the factory. They “will star in their own event series.”
Future projects under the Dahl deal will take inspiration from other books of his, including Matilda, The BFG, and The Twits. When announcing the deal, Netflix stated 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.”
Melissa Cobb, Netflix’s vp of original animation, said in a statement, “I grew up reading Dahl stories and lived large parts of my young life in those magical worlds, so finding just the right creative partner to bring Willy Wonka, Charlie, and the Oompa-Loompas to life in animation was a daunting task… until Taika walked into the room. Then, it was really obvious. If Dahl had created a character of a filmmaker to adapt his work, I’m pretty sure he would have created Taika.”
Gideon Simeloff, commercial and entertainment director of the Roald Dahl Story Company, added, “In the words of Willy Wonka himself — we are ‘Delighted! Charmed! Overjoyed!’ with Taika’s appointment on this project. There is something undeniably Wonka-esque about Taika’s creative flair and inimitable sense of humor and we cannot think of anyone more perfectly suited to leading the creative charge on these first-of-their-kind, feature-quality Netflix shows.”
Waititi made his name with indie comedies in his native New Zealand, before directing the Marvel blockbuster Thor: Ragnarok. Last month, he won an Oscar for the screenplay of his Nazi satire Jojo Rabbit. He was briefly involved in writing Disney’s Moana, and at one point attached to a stop-motion movie about Michael Jackson’s monkey. He’s also been linked to remakes of Flash Gordon and Akira.
Dahl, who died in 1990, remains one of the world’s best-known children’s writers. According to Netflix, he has sold 300 million books, and continues to sell another every 2.5 seconds. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is his best-selling work. It has been adapted a number of times for the screen and stage; a prequel is reportedly in the works at Warner Bros.
These series will reach Netflix as the streaming market is being turbocharged by new arrivals. Disney+ is an especially formidable challenger when it comes to family audiences. This is a key demographic for Netflix, which has previously said that around 60% of its global audience watches content for children and families every month. For more information about the different animation strategies of the various platforms, check out Cartoon Brew’s ultimate guide to streaming animation.
Illustration at top: “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” by Quentin Blake from the original publication of Dahl’s book.)