Paul King, the director of the whimsical and acclaimed Paddington movies, has set his sights on another British literary title to adapt.
King is in final negotiations to direct Willy Wonka, a reimagining of Roald Dahl’s classic children’s book Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, which is being developed by Warner Bros.
King would be reunited with David Heyman, the producer of the Paddington movies.
Wonka is the infamous and eccentric owner of a chocolate factory who figured prominently in Dahl’s 1964 book and its follow-up, Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator. He also was the caretaker of the Oompa-Loompas, the short humans whom Wonka saved from enemies in Loompaland and now make his candies. The Wonka character became so indelible in culture that the 1971 film adaptation of the book was titled Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Gene Wilder portrayed the character in that pic, while Johnny Depp played him in the 2005 adaptation.
Simon Rich wrote the new script, which is being kept under wraps.
Warners is beginning a creative revamp of some of its properties. The hope for Wonka is that King will initiate a new franchise that will stand out artistically. Another Dahl adaptation, The Witches, has a script written by Guillermo del Toro and is attracting directors, with Robert Zemeckis said to have met for the project.
The moves follow the studio’s deal with the Dr. Seuss estate to make a new Cat in the Hat movie as well as other Seuss adaptations. And new leadership overseeing the DC-based movies is also intended to steer that slate in new directions.
King currently has Paddington 2 in theaters. The British-centric pic, with stars Sally Hawkins and Hugh Grant, among others, was released by Warner Bros., which picked it up from beleaguered The Weinstein Co. late last year. The movie holds an astounding 100 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes, a record, and has made more than $205 million worldwide to date.
King is repped by WME.