The ‘Wonka’ Prequel


Pamina Yung, Staff Writer

Warner Bros. announced on Jan. 19 that it is currently working on Wonka, the company’s prequel to the 1971 film Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory based on Roald Dahl’s book, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Wonka has been in the making for the past four years, but was recently picked back up, and is set for release on Mar. 17, 2023. The movie will focus on “a young Willy Wonka and his adventures prior to opening the world’s most famous chocolate factory,” according to the studio.

Paddington director Paul King and the producer of the Harry Potter film series David Heyman are working together on Wonka, with Simon Rich as the writer of the original draft, and Simon Farnaby and King as writers of the current script. They have plans to start shooting the movie in the U.K. in September.

In the original 1971 movie distributed by Wolper Pictures, Willy Wonka was played by Gene Wilder. Johnny Depp then took on the role in the 2005 Tim Burton remake, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, which earned $475 million in box office sales. No cast members for the Wonka prequel have been announced yet, but Call Me by Your Name star Timothée Chalamet and Spider-Man actor Tom Holland are reportedly under consideration for the role of younger Willy Wonka.

The new film is an intriguing idea, but some fans are upset, claiming that no one can play the role of the chocolatier as perfectly as Gene Wilder did. Furthermore, though the 2005 remake received mostly positive reviews, some disliked Johnny Depp’s interpretation of Wonka. 

Quite a few seem to believe that the 1971 Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory is the only movie adaptation that should have been made. They are worried about Willy Wonka being portrayed as a type of “hero.” The fact that he enslaved numerous Oompa Loompas is one reason why he is not a necessarily good person. By lacking a justifying backstory, Wonka could escape being criticized as a freaky sociopath and instead be viewed as bizarre and charismatic. It is also argued that Wonka should not be given an origin story, as his mysterious past is a large component of his eccentric yet enjoyable character.

“I think it’s neat that they’re making a prequel, I loved the original Willy Wonka movie and the 2005 Johnny Depp was cool, too. Although Willy Wonka is a horrible person, I’d actually like to see Timothée Chalamet play him,” said sophomore Marie Sekiguchi. “Even though there is controversy around demystifying Wonka’s backstory, I trust that people who want to see it can separate reality from what happens on the movie screen.”

Willy Wonka is a captivating figure in an iconic children’s classic. But what becomes of the film and the audience’s reaction when it is released is difficult to predict.


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