Back in 2018, Netflix revealed that it was working a bit of magic with announced plans to adapt and expand on the writings of author Roald Dahl, turning his classic stories (many of which have become classic movies) into animated series events that will bring things beyond his written words. Among the titles in development are Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and its sequel, Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator (the first time it’s been adapted); The BFG, and Matilda. But when it comes to Charlie, things have taken a new turn with the hiring of writer/director Taika Waititi.
Taika has proven himself to be one of the most unique filmmakers out there today, and his plan is to first tackle Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and then a separate series all about the Oompa-Loompas. In a statement, Melissa Cobb, Netflix’s Vice President of Original Animation, enthused, “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.”
It’s hard to argue that point, considering the unique qualities Taika brings to projects he’s involved with. He’s the creative force behind Marvel Studios’ Thor: Ragnarok, which not only captures a tone different from all the other Marvel movies, but went a long way in making Chris Hemsworth’s Thor cooler than he’d ever been. He also wrote and directed the critically acclaimed JoJo Rabbit (for which he won the Academy Award in category of Best Adapted Screenplay) about a young boy in Hitler’s army who discovers his mother is hiding a Jewish girl in their home and has to come to terms with that — interacting with the oh-so-strange Hitler that’s a part of his imagination. Additionally, there is the bizarre vampire film and TV show What We Do in the Shadows, directing the season finale of the Star Wars show The Mandalorian and the fact that he’s coming back to helm Marvel’s Thor: Love and Thunder.
Gideon Simeloff, Commercial and Entertainment Director for the Roald Dahl Story Company, notes, “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 perfect suited to leading the creative charge on these first of their kind, feature quality Netflix shows.”
“Roald Dahl’s stories,” describes Netflix of the overall concept of these shows, “have long inspired award-winning feature films and stage productions. But now, for the first time, Netflix will bring together the highest quality creative, visual, and writing teams to extend the stories in this first-of-its-kind slate of premium animated event series and specials for audiences of all ages and for families to enjoy together. Netflix intends to remain faithful to the quintessential spirit and tone of Dahl while also building out an imaginative story universe that expands far beyond the pages of the books themselves.”
Felicity Dahl, the author’s widow, enthusiastically offers, “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. 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.”
“Immersing ourselves in the extraordinary worlds of Roald Dahl stories has been an honor and a massive amount of fun, and 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,” adds Melissa Cobb. “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.”
Besides those listed above, other stories will include The Twits, George’s Marvelous 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, and Rhyme Stew.
A world of pure imagination indeed.