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David Heyman’s Willy Wonka Movie Will be a Prequel

willy wonka and the chocolate factory

News surrounding the new Willy Wonka film is coming out in a slow-but-steady trickle.

The most recent news, from a Collider interview with producer David Heyman, reveals the movie will focus on the backstory of the acclaimed chocolatier.

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Heyman, most famous for producing the Harry Potter films, played a bit coy with any additional details on the plot and even production schedule for the film. When asked about Paddington director Paul King, who signed on to direct the Wonka prequel back in February, he only said that he “hopes” it will happen with King as director.

“We are still trying to figure out how to tell that story, what the story is,” Heyman said. “It’s a prequel, it’s not a sequel. 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.”

This wouldn’t be the first time a Wonka film dives into the character’s past, but it would certainly be the boldest. In Tim Burton’s adaptation of the classic story, he gave Johnny Depp’s Willy a tragic backstory as the son of a mean dentist. This version earned agreeable-enough reviews at the time but has gone on to become the subject of ridicule along with Burton’s Alice in Wonderland films.

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In the hands of producer David Heyman, it could work out well, especially if someone like King does direct. After writing and directing the two Paddington films, which are two of the best-reviewed films of all time according to Rotten Tomatoes, King has shown he’s more than capable of churning out a delightful children’s film. He’s currently in the early stages of planning the third entry in the franchise, but Collider also revealed King probably will not have time to take the director’s chair.

But it’s not just King’s role in the Paddington series that’s up in the year, as he may not even be free for the Wonka prequel. He is currently in pre-production for a remake of Disney’s Pinocchio, which may take up all of his time.

Nevertheless, the idea of a prequel to such a beloved character as Roald Dahl’s Willy Wonka has clear general audience appeal, so it’s hard to imagine the film won’t get made eventually. So now Wonka-fans will have to play the waiting game, as it could be years even before more information on the project comes out.

Heyman’s next project, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, releases on November 16.

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