For years there were rumors swirling about a remake of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. I started cataloguing them on this page.
From Forbes Magazine (12/2003)
Forbes Magazine is reporting that Warner Brothers is “in talks about an Imax release” of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory in “summer 2005”. Hmm, I honestly don’t know if I’d go see that. Imax movies tend to make me a little motion sick…
From Yahoo Movies: Greg’s Previews (11/2003)
Greg seems to have the most reliable information available. According to his sources, Tim Burton is indeed directing and his first choice for Wonka is Johnny Depp. “Depp and Burton have indeed met about the role, an offer has been made, and he is now officially in negotiations with the studio.” The new screenwriter is Gwyn Lurie. The studio is apparently aiming for a June 2005 release date.
From Cinescape Online
Well, it looks like they might have found somebody to take the helm: Rob Minkoff, the directory of “Stuart Little”. Stay tuned for further developments…
It looks as if Gary Ross and Scott Frank are no longer attached to the film. Brillstein-Grey (the owners of the rights to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and the agency putting the project together) report that they are “currently speaking with other directors and writers to take on the project.” Sounds like we’ve entered Production Hell, kids.
From Dark Horizons
A lot of ridiculous speculatio (ie Manson playing Wonka) has been hitting the Net about the film lately, so I e-mailed my contacts at Dahl & Dahl just to get an update on pre-production. Their reply:
“All the speculation is purely that. The truth is that the screenplay is still being finished by Scott Frank and until he submits the final version, there will be no actors appointed etc. However, Gary Ross, author of ‘Big’ and director of the brilliant ‘Pleasantville’ is attached to the project as director. No date yet for the commencement of shooting, but we are hoping it will be the end of this year, strikes permitting.”
From Ain’t It Cool News
Another scoop that I sent in. The only important part is that the Dahl Foundation recently confirmed the title of the film for me: “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.” That’s right, we’re focusing on the BOOK this time, people! Hooray! *grin*
From Ain’t It Cool News
The article linked above was actually sent in by me following the lunch I had with Liccy Dahl in Spring 2000. In brief, here’s what I discovered:THE REMAKE IS HAPPENING. Scott Frank is currently writing the script but they don’t expect to being production until autumn of this year at least. The director hasn’t officially signed on yet, but Gary Ross (who wrote/directed “Pleasantville”) has been chosen and is working with Frank on the screenplay. Nobody’s been cast as Wonka yet; the studio wants an “A” list star that will guarantee the film’s success.
From Cinescape Online
Plot: Based on Roald Dahl’s book Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and the 1971 Gene Wilder-starring classic Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. / The Buzz: Many of you, myself included, may be wondering why on earth a Willy Wonka remake is being made when the original film was so good? It’s due, in part, to the recent success of two other Roald Dahl books brought to film: James and the Giant Peach and Matilda. In fact, Dahl’s widow, Liccy Dahl, will be involved in the production the same way she was in the two previous films. A source involved in the negotiations also added, “The family recognized that the 1971 film had an enthusiastic and loyal following, but they felt that the full potential of the book hadn’t been realized.” / Players:Nicolas Cage as Willy Wonka (rumored) / Crew: Michael Caton–Jones (Director – unconfirmed); Scott Frank (Screenwriter); Brad Grey and Michael Siegel / Producers: Warner Bros. / Distributor Status: In development / Release Date: TBD
- July 12, 1999… The most recent issue of Fade In: Magazine features a cover story on screenwriter Scott Frank, the man who is writing Minority Report for Spielberg and Cruise as well as the unnecessary remake of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Frank does give his reasons for taking on the Wonka project saying: “I don’t love the original (film), because it’s not the book. I love the book, and I feel the tone of the book is different from the tone of Willy Wonka. And I want to make a movie about the kid, not about Willy Wonka. Roald Dahl is one of the reasons I’m a writer and that book in particular is what introduced me to narrative. … “I don’t love it (the original film) the way everyone loves it. It didn’t affect me. I was let down because I loved the book so much. I suppose if I’d seen the movie without being so in love with the book, it might have had a different effect. But it was made real for me in a way that was so disappointing. I’m not saying it’s a bad movie; I just don’t love the movie. And I know a lot of people do, so I feel like there’s another version of that. And it’s not a musical — no one’s going to sing ‘The Candy Man’, you know what I mean?”
- February 4, 1999 Confirming rumors that were previously reported in the Insider back on January 21, Warner Bros. is moving forward on a live–action remake of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Variety is reporting that the studio has already hired scribe Scott Frank (Out of Sight, Get Shorty) to write the new film’s script, which Frank plans to make more faithful to Roald Dahl’s original book Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. The Variety story reports that when the rumors started about the project, Frank, a great fan of the book and the original film, went to WB offering his services. Still, many of you, myself included, may be wondering why on earth a remake is being made when the original film was so good? It’s due, in part, to the recent success of two other Dahl books brought to film: James and the Giant Peach and Matilda. In fact, Dahl’s widow, Liccy Dahl, will be involved in the production the same way she was in the two previous films. A source involved in the negotiations also added, “The family recognized that the 1971 film had an enthusiastic and loyal following, but they felt that the full potential of the book hadn’t been realized.” Frank will start working on the project as soon as he finishes up writing the script for DreamWorks’ Stephen Spielberg and Tom Cruise film, Minority Report. Warner Bros. expects Frank to have his first draft done by the summer. Then, they will choose a director with plans to schedule production to start in fall 1999 or early 2000. Brillstein–Grey Entertainment will make the picture for Warner Bros. with Brad Grey and Michael Siegel acting as the film’s producers. At no time does Variety mention those rumors of Nicolas Cage playing Willy Wonka.
- January 21, 1999 Columnist Liz Smith is reporting that Nicolas Cage may soon star in a really unnecessary live-action remake of Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. This new version would have Cage play Willy Wonka, a part played to perfection by Gene Wilder back in 1971. Michael Caton Jones (Rob Roy, The Jackal) is rumored to be most likely to helm this mistake. Please tell me this is a joke, because if it isn’t, Hollywood needs to get a clue. Some films need not be remade, especially if they are still being enjoyed by contemporary audiences – like Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory is. Regardless, file this one under “not likely.”
This one has lots of information, most of which seems trustworthy. It verifies all of the crew names we’ve heard so far, and once again debunks the popular Cage/Wonka rumor. As far as the reasons for the remake that it offers: If I were a little more of a cynic I might venture to comment that the success of other Dahl films only points to one type of potential to be realized with this remake – FINANCIAL. Anyone who’s read the books and seen the movies knows that hardly any of cinematic versions have (artistically or stylistically) lived up to their literary counterparts.
From Coming Attractions
Genre: Family/Fantasy. / Studio: Warner Brothers. / Production Company: Unknown. / Project Phase: Development Hell. / Who’s In It: No one confirmed as yet. / Who’s Making It: Michael Caton-Jones (Director); Scott Frank (Screenwriter); Based on the novel by Roald Dahl. / Premise: The brilliant hermit/confectionary genius Willy Wonka announces that golden tickets will be placed at random in bars of his candy. Those who find the tickets will get a tour of the heretofore top secret Wonka Factory and get a chance to win free chocolate for life. Can the impoverished child Charlie Bucket find a ticket and get a chance to change his life forever? / Release Date: 2001? /Comments: Gene Wilder’s interp of Wonka in the original 1971 classic, directed by Mel Stuart, is widely considered to be one of his finest turns on the screen. The movie as a whole is considered a classic. Why risk a remake? There’s no telling. / Rumors: Unknown.
- June 17, 1999… Nicolas Cage may or may not still be rumored to play Mr. Wonka himself. But that’s just a rumor in itself.
- July 13, 1999… Our scooper Stax picks up on a story that originally appeared in Fade In: Magazine about why screenwriter Scott Frank decided to write the remake. Besides the money part, of course. We copy it here for you so you can decide:
- “I don’t love the original (film), because it’s not the book. I love the book, and I feel the tone of the book is different from the tone of Willy Wonka. And I want to make a movie about the kid, not about Willy Wonka. Roald Dahl is one of the reasons I’m a writer and that book in particular is what introduced me to narrative…I don’t love it (the original film) the way everyone loves it. It didn’t affect me. I was let down because I loved the book so much. I suppose if I’d seen the movie without being so in love with the book, it might have had a different effect. But it was made real for me in a way that was so disappointing. I’m not saying it’s a bad movie; I just don’t love the movie. And I know a lot of people do, so I feel like there’s another version of that. And it’s not a musical – no one’s going to sing ‘The Candy Man’, you know what I mean?”
Well, I’m still not sure how I feel about the project overall, but I can’t help agreeing with Scott Frank’s statements there. I feel exactly the same way about the original film… Maybe it won’t be too bad after all.
From an eBay auction of the name www.williewonka.com
Warner Brothers is planning to remake the 1971 classic movie starring Nicolas Cage as Willy Wonka. The movie is slated for distribution in 2001. Nestlé owns the rights to make chocolate products under the “Wonka” brand.
I wouldn’t actually put too much stock into this person’s information. Obviously, they’re trying to make the domain they’re selling sound as valuable as possible, and the easiest way to do that is to attach a big name star and a definite distribution date. The seller might have read the Internet Movie Database information below and simply embellished it to sweeten his/her item description. Still, I can’t completely discount the possibility of there being some truth in this…
From the Internet Movie Database’s “Where Are They Now?” feature
May 15, 1999
AND NOW, IF YOU WANT TO VIEW PARADISE…
Though not a major box–office success when it was first released, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory is one of those films that has grown in popularity since it left theatrical release. It became so popular that in 1996, Warner Home Video issued a 25th anniversary edition which has since been re–issued again on DVD.
And yes, some of the rumors are true. Warner recently signed a deal with the Dahl estate to do a re–make of Wonka. But the Nic Cage as Willy thing is just speculation. The only one who’s been signed on for sure is screenwriter Scott Frank. Dahl’s books were often much darker than the sugar–coated treatment that Hollywood gave them. Heck, if you read his short stories, he’s written some really dark stuff I wouldn’t get anywhere near a child. One of the reasons behind the approval of the remake by his estate, apparently, has been to make a version that was more true to Dahl’s original vision. Scott Frank, who has not only made a name for himself adapting Elmore Leonard novels to the screen, but received an Oscar nomination for it this past year, seems like a good candidate for the job.
Of course, all this has sparked even more interest among fans in what’s happened to the kids from the film. So let’s go through them…
CHARLIE BUCKET (Peter Ostrum): With a three–picture deal literally being dropped in his lap after Wonka, Peter and his family decided against a career for him as a child star, making Wonka his one and only film. Peter went back to Cleveland and later got his degree in Veterinary Medicine from Cornell University in 1984. At last report, he lives in upstate New York where he is raising a family and running his veterinary practice. He has come out once in a while to give a talk at a local screening, but prefers to keep things low key.
AUGUSTUS GLOOP (Michael Bollner): According to Paris Themmen (a.k.a. Mike Teevee), who got it from a Wonka biographer, Michael is an accountant in Germany.
VIOLET BEAUREGARD (Denise Nickerson): Denise continued acting for a few years after Wonka and then also decided to leave show biz. She became a nurse and is now, at the age of 40, a stay-at-home mom. She doesn’t stay home all the time, though. A bit before Wonka, she appeared on slightly over 70 episodes of the vampire soap opera, “Dark Shadows.” She makes occasional appearances at “Dark Shadows” and sci–fi fan conventions.
VERUCA SALT (Julie Dawn Cole): After Wonka, Julie returned to England where she continues to pursue her acting career. In 1996 she appeared in the short–lived British series “Married for Life,” a re-hashing of the American show “Married With Children.” She’s been doing voice overs since then and clues point to a role on the BBC soap “EastEnders” within the last 6 months or so, but it was hard to verify it by press time. If you’re not a fan of the show, the BBC web site for it is very uninformative.
MIKE TEEVEE (Paris Themmen): Between the verbal info Paris gave me at the Hollywood Collectors and Celebrities Show, the info on his web site, and the info he e-mailed me recently, I could nearly write a book. He’s done stage work, worked in movie production, owned a travel agency (and visited 36 countries), helped design theme park attractions at Disney… the list goes on. All in all he’s led a very interesting life.
Currently he works with a commercial casting agency and does some voice work, plus this year he’s decided to take advantage of the Wonkamania and has a fairly busy personal appearance schedule. Two weeks before I met him at the Hollywood Collectors and Celebrities Show in Los Angeles, he’d been in New Jersey at the International Collectible Toy eXpo where Julie Dawn Cole was also in attendance.
Paris has upcoming appearances in Michigan, New Jersey, and Louisiana this month, and will also be at one of the biggest conventions of the year, Dragon Con in Atlanta in July. He says that he’s hoping to see both Julie and Denise there, and who knows who else? He’s currently 39, single, and just a really nice guy. The “nice guy” thing isn’t just my experience. On some fan sites where the webmasters reported meeting him at shows recently, they also noted how nice he was. He’s not an embittered former child star, no horror stories in his past, but a well–adjusted, friendly and gracious adult who is having fun going out and meeting the fans.
NOTE: Paris has a website here.
From the Internet Movie Database’s “Stump the Staff” service
April 22, 1999
“The Dahl estate has indeed signed a deal with Warner Brothers to let them produce a new version of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971). It is set to be written by Scott Frank, who was one of this year’s Oscar nominees for Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium (for Out of Sight). As for Nic Cage playing Wonka, that’s purely speculation. Liz Smith reported it as something she “heard” in January and in February other sources were still reporting it prefaced with “rumor has it.” Until a contract is signed, we believe the smart money will be on Jim Carrey to nab the role after he’s done playing the Grinch.”