Taika Waititi has signed on to develop a new series adaptation of the Roald Dahl classic Charlie and The Chocolate Factory for Netflix. Waititi will also develop a second Dahl series for Netflix about the Oompa Loompas who work in Willy Wonka’s factory. This will be the first time that anyone has written a new story based on pre-existing Dahl material. Both series will be animated, with Waititi set to write, direct, and executive produce. The streaming network made the announcement this week via Twitter.
Taika Waititi will write, direct, & EP two animated series based on the works of Roald Dahl.
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, that builds out their world pic.twitter.com/TqIzxTlRSf
— Netflix US (@netflix) March 5, 2020
Taika Waititi Is The Right Person To Develop Multiple Roald Dahl Projects For Netflix
Waititi is currently riding high off the success of his last film Jojo Rabbit. That film earned him an Academy Award for best adapted screenplay, along with a best picture nomination. He also directed the highly acclaimed Thor: Ragnarok, and will return to Asgard in Phase 4 with Thor: Love and Thunder in November 2021. Most recently he has been in talks with Disney and Lucasfilm to direct a future Star Wars movie, but with a slowdown in the release schedule that might be some time in coming. One thing is clear, Waititi is in high demand right now. An animated Netflix project might seem like an odd choice right after winning an Oscar. However, the filmmaker’s irreverent style and eccentric humor makes him the ideal person to adapt Dahl’s strange books.
Image by Gage Skidmore via Flickr
Gideon Simeloff, the entertainment director for Roald Dahl Story Company company said the following about Waititi stepping up to adapt the stories.
“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.”
Will Waititi Stay True To Dahl’s Original Vision?
Netflix has promised that the original Oompa Loompa series will “retain the quintessential spirit and tone of the original story while building out the world and characters far beyond the pages of the Dahl book for the very first time.” The works of Roald Dahl have seen many adaptations over the years. The 1971 version of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory with Gene Wilder remains the seminal adaptation of the young adult novel.
Another interesting question is whether Waititi will stay true to Dahl’s original vision of making Charlie Bucket a young black boy. Apparently Dahl originally wrote Charlie as a black child, but his agent convinced him to change the detail before publication. In all of the current adaptations of the book, Charlie has been white. And the depiction of the Oompa Loompas as African pygmies stirred many accusations of racism against the author. However, a contemporary adaptation is a prime opportunity to achieve Dahl’s original plan. Making Charlie black would give Waititi a great opportunity to fully explore the themes of classism and racism inherent both in the source material, and in the conversation surrounding these well known stories.
The Oompa Loompas in the 1971 Film | Image via Warner Bros.
Netflix and The Roald Dahl Story Company Team Up To Create Original Content
These shows are part of a new collaboration between Netflix and the Roald Dahl Story Company. In 2018, Netflix moved forward with plans to ‘adapt and expand’ more of Dahl’s work. Currently popular titles such as Matilda and The BFG are in the lineup.
In the Netflix lineup is also an adaptation of Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator. This sequel has never made it to screen in the many Dahl adaptations over the years. And weaving in the weird surrealist horror elements of the sequel would translate well to an animated series. No word yet on whether this sequel will be part of Waititi’s projects, or a separate series altogether. But it feels likely that it will be incorporated into Waititi’s Charlie series.
The upcoming Dahl projects promise to be “animated event series” for Netflix. They are “first-of-its-kind” adaptations that will eventually contribute to a larger “imaginative story universe.” No word yet on when these shows are due to air, but we will certainly be following the news. To stay informed, make sure you’re following Comic Years on Facebook and Twitter.
Emily O'Donnell is a writer and photographer with roots in some of the earliest online fandoms. She cut her genre teeth on the Wizard of Oz books at the tender age of 6 years old, and was reading epic adult fantasy novels by the age of 10. Decades later, she still consumes genre fiction like there is no tomorrow. She is delighted to be living through the golden age of sci-fi and fantasy popularity. She is unashamed of the amount of fanfiction that still lingers online under her name.