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SYFY WIRE Taika Waititi

Taika Waititi lands sweet gig of directing two Charlie and the Chocolate Factory series at Netflix

By Josh Weiss
Taika Waititi Willy Wonka and The Chocolate Factory

After his recent Oscar win, Taika Waititi shows no signs of slowing down. In fact, he's rewarding himself with an entire factory full of candy. Netflix confirmed today that the Thor: Ragnarok and Jojo Rabbit filmmaker has locked down a deal to write, executive-produce, and direct two animated series based on Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

The first show is more or less the story we all know: A young and poor boy, Charlie, finds a golden ticket that grants him access to the wonderfully wacky chocolate factory operated by the eccentric Willy Wonka. The second show, however, is said to be "a wholly original take on the Oompa-Loompas," the small-statured creatures who work in the factory and sing every time something bad happens to a spoiled child (see Tik Tok if you dare). Per the streamer, both 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."

Taika Waititi

Netflix announced in 2018 that it would be adapting several of Dahl's works (including The BFG, Matilda, and The Twits) into a slew of animated projects, but this is the first real development since then. Based on his whimsically unique sense of humor prominently seen in movies like What We Do in the Shadows and Ragnarok, Waititi does seem like a perfect fit for this IP.

"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," Netflix VP of Original Animation Melissa Cobb said in a statement.

“In the words of Willy Wonka himself – we are ‘Delighted! Charmed! Overjoyed!’ with Taika’s appointment on this project,” added Gideon Simeloff, commercial and entertainment director, 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."

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Perhaps the most famous of Dahl's entire bibliography, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory has been adapted for the big screen twice — once in 1971 by Mel Stuart (featuring Gene Wilder as Wonka, this is the most iconic adaptation) and again in 2005 by Tim Burton (Johnny Depp played Wonka in this version). The 1964 book for young readers has also been translated into video games and stage productions.

That said, we're still waiting for Hollywood to stop dragging its feet and finally adapt Dahl's even more bonkers sequel, Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator. Two words: Vermicious Knids.