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Taika Waititi has found the golden ticket.
Mere weeks after winning an Oscar for penning Jojo Rabbit, Waititi is jumping into the world of Roald Dahl for Netflix, closing a deal to write, direct and executive produce two original animated series based on the celebrated author’s works, the streaming company announced Thursday.
The first series will be based on the world and characters of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, while the second is described as a wholly original take on the Oompa-Loompas, the small song-loving humans who worked in Willy Wonka’s infamous factory.
According to Netflix, the shows 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 book has been adapted into movies, games, musicals — perhaps most famously as the Gene Wilder-starring cult classic, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Tim Burton and Johnny Depp teamed up for a translation in 2005 while a recent West End stage production broke sales records.
Netflix made a deal with Dahl’s estate in 2018. The Waititi pact marks the first steps in developing the works, which Netflix is pushing as an “animated event series.” The company is seeking high-profile names to adapt stories such as Matilda, The BFG and The Twits, among others.
Said Netflix vp original animation Melissa Cobb: “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.”
“In the words of Willy Wonka himself: We are ‘Delighted! Charmed! Overjoyed!’ with Taika’s appointment on this project,” said Gideon Simeloff, commercial and entertainment director for The Roald Dahl Story Company. “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 has become one of the most in-demand filmmakers in Hollywood thanks to his blend of quirk, humor and style that is able to slide between genres and scale. His Jojo was a humane and sly take on the war and hate that had a sentimental heart beating in the center. And Thor: Ragnarok reinvigorated a slumping superhero franchise.
But how he manages his many upcoming projects and satisfies all his patrons will be his next challenge. On top of the two Dahl series, Waititi is in postproduction on Searchlight’s soccer comedy Next Goal Wins while also prepping Marvel’s Thor: Love and Thunder, which he’s writing and directing. There is also some Star Wars in his future, as he’s in talks with Lucasfilm to develop a movie and could work more on The Mandalorian.
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