'Charlie and the Chocolate Factory' Prequel 'Wonka' Sets Release Date

Warner Bros. has announced it's moving forward with its plans to produce a Charlie and the Chocolate Factory prequel film, Wonka. According to Variety, the new project has allegedly been in the works for years but was recently picked up again. The studio plans to begin casting soon and has set a tentative March 17, 2023 release date.

Based on Roald Dahl's classic book Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, the original story follows a young poor boy who wins the trip of a lifetime –– along with four other children –– and gets a tour of fictional candy boss Willy Wonka's world-renowned chocolate factory. Gene Wilder played the eccentric Wonka in the original 1971 film, entitled Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory. Johnny Depp also took on the role in Tim Burton's 2005 reboot called Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Burton's film was deemed a box office phenom after taking home $475 million worldwide.

The site reports the film will focus on Wonka's life before the Chocolate Factory, but other details of the plot are still being kept quiet. In Burton's adaptation, Wonka grows up with a dentist father who has an extreme distaste for sweets and children — but, it's still unclear if that portion of the recent retelling will play any role in this new tale.

David Heyman (Harry Potter, Paddington) is signed on to produce the film, based on Simon Rich's script. The duo has been attached to the movie since 2016. Rich's previous credits include Saturday Night Live and Seth Rogen's An American Pickle, which was based on Rich's New Yorker short story "Sell Out." Simon Farnaby also co-wrote the script, and Paul King will direct.

The news comes just a month after Dahl's family apologized on behalf of the late author for his anti-semitic remarks. Dahl's beliefs have always received criticism, but the family's response came after the Royal Mint canceled plans to celebrate Dahl's 100th birthday. "The Dahl family and the Roald Dahl Story Company deeply apologize for the lasting and understandable hurt caused by some of Roald Dahl’s statements," the statement said. "Those prejudiced remarks are incomprehensible to us and stand in marked contrast to the man we knew and to the values at the heart of Roald Dahl's stories, which have positively impacted young people for generations. We hope that, just as he did at his best, at his absolute worst, Roald Dahl can help remind us of the lasting impact of words."