The untold origin story behind one of the most iconic fictional characters in history is due to be revealed. We learned earlier this year that Warner Bros. was developing a Willy Wonka movie with Paddington and Paddington 2 director Paul King in talks to take the helm. At the time, plot details were unclear but we did know that Simon Rich (Man Seeking Woman) was writing the script and David Heyman (Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts franchises) was producing.
A further curiosity arrived this summer when Collider broke the news that actors like Donald Glover and Ryan Gosling were on the studio’s shortlist to play Willy Wonka in this new film, which at the time was rumored to be a prequel. So when Collider’s own Steve Weintraub spoke with Heyman in anticipation of the release of Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, he asked for an update on Willy Wonka. Heyman said they’re still figuring the film out, but did confirm it will be a prequel to the Willy Wonka story we already know:
“We are still trying to figure out how to tell that story, what the story is. 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.”
Heyman said he “hopes” the film gets made with Paul King directing, but King is getting ready to direct Pinocchio for Disney so his lack of availability for the next year and a half or so means Willy Wonka is probably a few years off, if he is indeed in the director’s chair. But it’s interesting to hear they’re going the prequel route. Mel Stuart’s 1971 adaptation Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory kept Wonka ambiguous, while Tim Burton’s 2005 film iteration of Roald Dahl’s story attempted to give Wonka a backstory that involved an estranged dentist father played by Christopher Lee.
But seeing as how they haven’t even nailed down the story for this Willy Wonka movie just yet, this one probably isn’t happening in the near future.