CinemaCon 2023 is underway with a slate of presentations from major studios. Warner Bros. Pictures got in on the action by releasing a convention-exclusive trailer for their upcoming musical adaptation Wonka, which revealed that British icon Hugh Grant had joined the cast as an Oompa-Loompa.
The footage, which gave more of an insight into the fantastical world of Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory, showed Grant as a CGI-driven Oompa-Loompa at the end of the trailer, where he can be heard introducing himself to the eponymous chocolate maker. This was a shocking reveal given that Grant had not even been announced as part of the cast, though rumors had previously swirled that he had joined the project. It is unclear if Grant will play a significant role in the film, or if his part as an Oompa-Loompa is relegated to a cameo, given that there will likely be dozens of Oompa-Loompas on screen. Beyond Grant, the trailer showed off more footage of Willy Wonka himself, portrayed by the Academy Award-nominated Timothée Chalamet. It was already previously revealed that Chalamet will perform a number of original songs in the film, and with Grant‘s addition, Wonka seems to be shaping up as a significantly whimsical feature.
Chalamet and Grant will be joined by an A-list ensemble cast including Rowan Atkinson, Keegan-Michael Key, Olivia Colman, Sally Hawkins, Natasha Rothwell, Matt Lucas, and more. Given that Warner Bros. is remaining extremely tight-lipped about the film’s plot, there are no significant details about who most of these cast members will be playing, although the trailer confirmed that Hawkins will portray Wonka’s mother. However, it is known that the musical will serve as a prequel to the iconic 1964 novel Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl, and according to a logline from Warner Bros., will be “an origin story that explores the vivid, mythical beginnings of the imaginative young inventor before he becomes the renowned scrumdiddlyumptious Mozart of chocolate.”
Wonka Has Been in the Works for a While
Warner Bros. seems to be betting on Wonka being one of its star attractions for the year, even as the studio is planning on releasing a whopping 22 other films in 2023. Warner Bros. has been hard at work on a reboot ever since acquiring the rights to the Willy Wonka character in 2016, with numerous A-list stars reportedly auditioning to play the title character. However, it was finally announced in May 2021 that Chalamet had won the job.
While there is a ton of talent on screen, the crew behind the camera is equally impressive. Wonka will be directed by Paul King, known for helming the family films Paddington and Paddington 2. King will direct off a screenplay he co-wrote with Simon Farnaby, with the two getting the final writing credits after previous drafts of the script were helmed by Simon Rich, Simon Stephenson, Jeff Nathanson, and Steven Levenson. David Heyman, known for producing all eight Harry Potter films for Warner Bros., will produce Wonka through his Heyday Films banner, alongside Alexandra Derbyshire and Dahl‘s grandson Luke Kelly for The Roald Dahl Story Company.
Warner Bros. is slated to release Wonka on Dec. 15, 2023.