Netflix, which already has an animation deal in place with the Roald Dahl Story Co., is now hoping to level up by taking control of Dahl’s complete works. As Bloomberg reports, citing sources who wished to remain unidentified, “a deal could be announced in days” that gives Netflix ownership of the author’s full catalog.
Much of Dahl’s work has already been adapted for the big and/or small screen—and some titles have even been adapted twice; besides the tale of Willy Wonka, which has a third film (a prequel starring Timothée Chalamet, which is being made by Warner Bros.) on the way, The Witches also got a recent do-over from Robert Zemeckis. However, given Netflix’s never-ending hunger for new content, you can see why the streamer would want to have full access to Dahl’s work, considering he wrote some of the most beloved kid’s books ever. As Bloomberg reminds us, Netflix’s 2018 animation deal with the Roald Dahl Story Co. was “reported at the time to be among the biggest ever for kids and family programming, worth $500 million to $1 billion.” (If you recall, we’re supposed to be getting a pair of Taika Waititi-created, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory-centric series out of that one, including a show focusing on the Oompa Loompas.) There’s no word on how much this new deal would cost, but you can imagine it will be worth a lot of golden tickets.
We’ve reached out to Netflix for comment and will update this post if we hear back—but it must be said this move feels like a natural extension of what Felicity Dahl, Roald Dahl’s widow, said when the 2018 deal was announced: “Our mission, which is purposefully lofty, is for as many children as possible around the world to experience the unique magic and positive message of Roald Dahl’s stories.”
Other Dahl adaptations that’ve already been made: the live-action Matilda, the live-action/animated hybrid The BFG, and animated takes on James and the Giant Peach and The Fantastic Mr. Fox—projects that involved filmmakers like Steven Spielberg, Danny DeVito, Henry Selick, and Wes Anderson. So you can imagine that other big-name creators would jump at the chance to shape one of Dahl’s tales into their own adaptation. Notably, that 2018 animation deal left out certain titles (including The Witches and James and the Giant Peach), presumably over rights issues; though it’s unclear at this point, one assumes this new deal, which Bloomberg touts as being for “the whole business,” would include everything. Here’s what was included in that 2018 deal, for those keeping track:
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Matilda, The BFG, The Twits, Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator, George’s Marvellous Medicine, Boy – Tales of Childhood, Going Solo, The Enormous Crocodile, The Giraffe and the Pelly and Me, Henry Sugar, Billy and the Minpins, The Magic Finger, Esio Trot, Dirty Beasts, and Rhyme Stew.
What do you make of this news? What dream Dahl project would you like to see? Maybe we’ll finally get Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator (not involving Tim Burton or Johnny Depp in any way) out of this.
Update 9/22/2021, 6:45 p.m. EST: Netflix has now officially confirmed that it has acquired the Roald Dahl Story Company, building on its previous animation deal to turn the company’s archive of Dahl’s writing into streaming content. “As we bring these timeless tales to more audiences in new formats, we’re committed to maintaining their unique spirit and their universal themes of surprise and kindness, while also sprinkling some fresh magic into the mix,” a statement from Netflix Co-CEO and Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos reads in part.
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