As if any more proof was needed that Hollywood will scrape the bottom of the barrel in order to wring every last drop of potential profit from a recognizable character or property, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory prequel Wonka was given an official release date yesterday, which came with the news that Warner Bros. were eying Tom Holland and Timothee Chalamet for the lead role.
Admittedly, the project comes with plenty of pedigree attached. Not only was producer David Heyman one of the driving forces behind the Harry Potter franchise, but he’s also a three-time Academy Award nominee having been involved in bringing Gravity, Marriage Story and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood to the big screen. Meanwhile, screenwriter Simon Rich is a former Pixar staff writer and director Paul King helmed two of the most critically acclaimed family films in recent history, with Paddington and its sequel holding Rotten Tomatoes scores of 97% and 100%.
That being said, the idea of an entire movie focusing on Willy Wonka before he even built his chocolate empire sounds fairly redundant, and based on the reactions you can see below, fans have already started sharpening their knives in anticipation.
Nobody will ever hold a candle to Gene Wilder’s Wonka, there’s just no point in even trying https://t.co/mjOnWh11sc
— een kell (@dontbitemefam) January 19, 2021
Yes, Gene Wilder was perfect. But I think the bigger discussion is that the more you explain Willy Wonka, the less interesting he becomes as a character. Willy Wonka should have no prequel, no explanation, no motivation. He is an absolute mystery, which lends him power. https://t.co/1w2MCwwCL7
— Zack Davisson (@ZackDavisson) January 19, 2021
— Stephanie Brown (@Stephan76215148) January 19, 2021
Did Johnny Depp not give us a good and accurate Willy Wonka film not too long ago or am I missing something??? https://t.co/J34682R1NN
— Eren Yeager🐐💫 (@TMightymos) January 19, 2021
No. Just No. Doing any type of Willy Wonka movie without Gene Wilder is wrong. Especially Johnny Depp or a CGI Gene Wilder
— Jason Sears (@SearsJason) January 19, 2021
Willy Wonka prequel to come out in 2023? This sounds like a totally pointless prequel, Willy Wonka is designed to be a stand alone movie not a franchise! pic.twitter.com/jXw7eb9RwL
— Harry Thomas (@HarryThomasPic) January 19, 2021
Instead of a Willy Wonka origin story why not fund something that doesn't suck entirely in premise alone? https://t.co/5adNiVbBeC
— David Baer (@X2allday) January 19, 2021
Also: do we really need a third Wonka? I mean, I think we peaked at Gene Wilder 🤔
— Nadja Lirio 🦋 (@nailirio) January 19, 2021
we don’t!! we don’t need a willy wonka prequel!! we know all we need to know about his youth and the start of the factory from the second film that was also unwanted!! i am so sick of this!!
— evil alexis from the evil timeline (@alexisw517) January 19, 2021
Tom Holland and Timothee Chalamet are both fantastic actors and two of the finest young talents in the industry, but there’s always going to be an air of skepticism surrounding Wonka, especially when the story is set to strip away some of the character’s most recognizable and popular iconography.
Of course, there was backlash when Tim Burton’s remake was first announced as well and that went on to earn $475 million at the box office, so it’ll be interesting to keep an eye on how Wonka shapes up over the next few months.