Willy Wonka Prequel Movie Announced for 2023

If you’re one of those people who wondered just how Willy Wonka built his sugary empire, you’re in luck. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Warner Bros. has set a March 17, 2023 release date for Wonka, a prequel focusing on the younger days of Willy Wonka. Paul King of Paddington fame will direct, and the Harry Potter franchise’s David Heyman is producing.

The official studio description for this long-in-the-works project describes it as being about “a young Willy Wonka and his adventures prior to opening the world’s most famous chocolate factory.”

Willy Wonka first appeared in Roald Dahl’s 1964 novel Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. His iconic pop culture status is due in large part to his portrayal by Gene Wilder in the 1971 movie version. Wilder’s performance is so strong, the producers retitled the film to have the Wonka name front and center. Roald Dahl hated that change, and the movie in general. He never got on board with the film’s musical numbers and story changes.

WILLY WONKA Prequel Movie Announced for 2023_1

Paramount Pictures / Warner Bros.

At first, the author’s objections seemed warranted. Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory was a disappointment at the box office in its release year. But similarly to The Wizard of Oz, subsequent TV airings made it into a cultural phenomena. These days, every kid on Earth knows the name Willy Wonka.

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Paramount Pictures / Warner Bros.

Two big questions remain. Will Wonka be a prequel to the 1971 film, or an all-new interpretation of the character? It’s possible that it could be a prequel to the Tim Burton version from 2005, which retained the original title of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Burton’s version wound up as pretty divisive, so maybe Warner Bros. just doesn’t want to revisit it any time soon. The other question is who the heck can fill Gene Wilder’s colorful shoes? Even Johnny Depp, at the height of his Jack Sparrow appeal, couldn’t really do it. The folks casting this movie definitely have their work cut out for them.

Featured Image: Paramount Pictures / Warner Bros.

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