Willy Wonka had already had two opportunities to shine on the big screen. He was first played by Gene Wilder in 1971, then Johnny Depp followed in 2005. You'd think that would have us covered until Hollywood decided to remake Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory tale 30-40 years in the future, but two weeks ago, it was announced that Warner Bros is making a prequel that will explore Wonka's younger years. Now according to the movie's producer, this tale may be a straightforward origin story.
It's not a remake. They've done two films, quite different. But it's possibly an origin story. We're just in the early stages of it, working with a writer called Simon Rich, which is wonderful.
Given that Simon Rich (who wrote The Secret Life of Pets) is early into the drafting process, it may be a while until he and the other creative minds iron out the story details. That said, this revelation conflicts with what we previously learned about the project. When the first report broke out about Warner Bros tackling a younger Willy Wonka, it was described as a standalone tale focused on his "early adventures." An origin story certainly falls into that broad category, although that same report said the movie wouldn't show how Wonka rose from adversity and developed his fondness for sugary sweets...or something along those lines. Evidently that direction isn't off the table.
Although Heyman wasn't willing to disclose any specific plot details about this Willy Wonka prequel, he did say it's probably not going to draw on any plot points from Roald Dahl's books. He explained:
It's challenging because you don't have Dahl, you don't have a Dahl book, and yet you have a Dahl character. But I think there's a lot in his character that suggests who he is and also where he might come from or what his childhood or his middle age might have been like. So we're exploring that. We're discussing it. We're in the very early stages and very excited about what lies ahead.
The funny thing about the possibility of this new Willy Wonka movie potentially being an origin story is that this was territory covered in Tim Burton's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Thanks to those frequent flashbacks, we learned that young Willy's father was a dentist who wouldn't let him eat candy in order to keep his teeth in pristine condition. When the lad eventually did manage to get a taste, his obsession skyrocketed, and he ran away from home to learn how to make the world's best candy. Why spend a whole movie following Wonka in his childhood years when a previous movie spent a fair amount of time exploring that part of his life?
We'll keep you apprised on how this new Willy Wonka movie is progressing as more news comes in, but Simon Rich will definitely need to think outside the box to make this story unique and interesting.