Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory
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Credit: Paramount Pictures

Development: Warner's Willy Wonka movie designated as prequel; Netflix dives with Jacob and the Sea Beast; more

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Nov 5, 2018

What do chocolate factories and sea beasts have in common? Usually nothing, but today, they're on our latest roundup of development news. You're intrigued, aren't you? 

Well, we won't keep you on the line any longer. Here's what's coming from the world of genre-related entertainment...


The Willy Wonka film currently in the works at Warner Bros. Pictures has been confirmed as a prequel by producer David Heyman during an interview with Collider.

“We are still trying to figure out how to tell that story, what the story is. It’s a prequel, it’s not a sequel," said Heyman, the person responsible for bringing Harry Potter to the big screen. "What makes Willy—when we find him at the chocolate factory doing the golden ticket, where is he before that? What leads him to that place where he’s locked himself away?… It’s how does he get there? So we’re playing around with that.”

His choice of director for the project is Paul King, who directed both Paddington films, both of which were produced by Heyman. Unfortunately, King may be unavailable due to the fact that he's working on a live-action version of Pinocchio for Disney. 

Wonka's backstory is alluded to in the 1964 book by Roald Dahl and the 1971 film adaptation, but the character was mainly portrayed as an enigma in both instances. His childhood and early candy-making exploits are overtly explored in the 2005 remake by Tim Burton, which was never going to live up to the original. 

Still, it would be pretty cool to see how he came up with his confectionary ideas during jungle-based adventures in Loompaland and run-ins with Vermicious Knids after the construction of his Great Glass Elevator. However, some may feel that such a cinematic icon doesn't really need a backstory, using the argument that the Star Wars prequels totally destroyed Darth Vader's mystique as precedent. 


Over at Netflix, Big Hero 6 co-director Chris Williams is planning to take the dive with the CG-animated movie Jacob And The Sea Beast, the company announced today. Set at sea, the plot finds a sailor, Jacob, becoming friends with a sea monster. 

"Jacob and the Sea Beast is the kind of story I've always wanted to take on," Williams (who is writing and directing) said in an official statement. "It's a tale of high adventure where our hero leaves the known world and ventures out into uncharted waters. As it turns out, I'm doing the same thing. I'm grateful for the opportunities provided by my former creative home and am excited to leap into a new environment. I feel a great energy at Netflix, as amazingly talented artists from a wide variety of backgrounds are coming together to build something new."

Williams has had a long career in animation that goes back to the Disney Renaissance production of Mulan in 1998. Over the last 20 years, he's worked on such beloved films as The Emperor's New Groove, Lilo & StitchMeet the Robinsons, Frozen, and Moana.

“Chris is one of the most talented filmmakers working in animation today and his distinct voice comes through in this touching tale of ancient hunters who struggle to capture a beautiful, mythical sea creature on the high seas," said Melissa Cobb, vice president of kids & family at Netflix. "His is precisely the kind of grand, adventure-filled story with smart and nuanced characters that we look for in family animated projects at Netflix."

Netflix subscribers can expect the movie to arrive in 2022. 


Last on the roster is an expansion initative from Dust, a science fiction-focused brand from the content creation studio known as Gunpowder & Sky, Deadline reports.

Since Gunpowder & Sky is, according to its own website, "unrestricted by form, genre or platform," it will be launching Dust in a number of places: Twitch, STIRR, WatchBack, and Vizio. Dust is the production banner behind Zeek Earl and Chris Caldwell's well-received sci-fi movie Prospect, which stars Pedro Pascal. 

In the near future, Dust is looking to release sci-fi shorts like Zero (with Game of Thrones's Bella Ramsey) and The Occupant (directed by Dimentia's Peter Cilella). Tim Kring, co-creator of Heroes, is working with Dust on currently-unknown series projects.


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