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SYFY WIRE Wes Anderson

Netflix launches first Roald Dahl adaptation with Wes Anderson, Benedict Cumberbatch and more

Netflix's effort to adapt a universe of Roald Dahl stories begins with an A-list roster of talent.

By Matthew Jackson
Wes Anderson GETTY

Last fall, Netflix announced that it had purchased the Roald Dahl Story Company, officially landing the rights to all of the beloved children's authors stories, with the goal of eventually weaving whole new streaming universes out of Dahl's creations. Now, the first effort to come out of that acquisition is ready to enter production, and it's bringing an A-list group of talent both in front of and behind the camera. 

Deadline reports that the streamer has tapped Oscar-nominated and BAFTA-winning writer and director Wes Anderson, fresh off the triumphant release of his 10th film, The French Dispatch, to helm an adaptation of The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar, Dahl's 1977 short story collection that includes the title tale and six others. But Anderson's not the only big name attached. The project has also reportedly landed stars Benedict Cumberbatch (who will play the title character), Dev Patel, Ralph Fiennes, and Ben Kingsley, setting the stage for Anderson to work with yet another stunning ensemble of talent. 

The short story "The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar" concerns a man who, after hearing about a person who's learned to see even though their eyes are sealed shut, sets out to learn the peculiar ability for himself. Other stories in the collection include "The Mildenhall Treasure," "The Hitch-Hiker," and "The Boy Who Talked With Animals." Details are still scarce on the project overall, but Deadline reports it could take the shape of an anthology film similar to the Coen Brothers' Netflix Western The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

Henry Sugar marks the second Roald Dahl journey for Anderson, who won acclaim for his stop-motion animation version of The Fantastic Mr. Fox in 2009. The filmmaker recently wrapped production on his 11th feature film, Asteroid City, and will soon move right into work on Henry Sugar. According to Deadline, the production is launching in London later this month. 

Though it didn't acquire the Roald Dahl Story Company until last year, Netflix has actually had big plans for Dahl's many characters and worlds for some time now. They officially began a partnership with Dahl's estate back in 2018, and have already set several projects in motion, including new adaptations of Matilda and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Now, Anderson is set to steer a high-profile feature film effort for the streamer that, if successful, could land them some awards nominations along the way, much like Anderson's other recent distinctive, ensemble-driven productions like The French DispatchMoonrise Kingdom, and The Grand Budapest Hotel