Whether you prefer Gene Wilder or Johnny Depp in the role, one thing that almost everybody would agree on is that a prequel following Willy Wonka during his younger days before he built his confectionery empire, recruited an army of Oompa Loompas and became a recluse willing to lure innocent children to their doom sounds equal parts creatively bankrupt and completely unnecessary.
However, we’re getting it whether you like it or not, with Warner Bros. officially staking out a release date of March 17th, 2023 for Wonka. Not only that, but word has leaked that the studio are eying Tom Holland and Timothee Chalamet to play the title character, indicating that the project is actively seeking a recognizable star in the mid-20s range.
Wonka has been in development for several years already, and the last time we heard names being linked to the proprietor of the chocolate factory, the likes of Ryan Gosling and Donald Glover were said to be under consideration, but it would now appear that the creative team is looking to skew at least a decade younger.
Harry Potter stalwart David Heyman has been attached to produce since the very beginning, while Paddington‘s Paul King is set to direct. The script was written by Simon Rich, who adapted his own short story into recent HBO Max exclusive An American Pickle, although it was reported last year that Catch Me If You Can‘s Jeff Nathanson had boarded the pic to polish the screenplay.
Of course, there’s every reason to be skeptical about Wonka, but King has shown a deft touch for family films thanks to the universally acclaimed Paddington movies, and hiring a proven talent like Holland or Chalamet for the lead would be a smart decision, if either of them choose to sign on.