According to our sources, one of the hot projects that Warner Bros has their eyes on is a Willy Wonka prequel, focusing on a young Willy Wonka and how he met the now iconic Oompa-Loompas on one of his earlier adventures. Variety confirmed this information in their exclusive on the project. Variety also revealed that Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find them producer David Heyman will be producing the project. Our source tells us the project is being described as a prequel to the beloved classic focusing on the adventures of a young Willy Wonka meeting the Oompa Loompas.
For those familiar with the original Roald Dahl novel, Wonka met the Oompa-Loompas in Loompaland. He invited the Oompa-Loompas to work in his chocolate factory. Although it seems that he is purely bringing them in for his own selfish reasons, he is genuinely concerned about the Oompa-Loompas potential for extinction due to the highly volatile and dangerous environment of Loompaland. He pays them in cocoa beans, which are their favorite food and are extremely rare in Loompaland. In the 1971 adaptation with Gene Wilder, we are able to see Wonka’s concern for the Oompa-Loompas as he worries about what will happen to them after he is gone.
Sources also reveal that Warner Bros is currently looking for a male actor between the ages of 29 and 35. Ryan Gosling is currently in the lead as he has expressed interest in portraying the infamous chocolate factory owner.
With Ryan Gosling interested in the role, it’ll be interesting to see which approach Warner Bros will be going for in developing the character of Willy Wonka. Will the prequel lean more towards supporting the Gene Wilder version of Willy Wonka or the Johnny Depp version? I think, if this project goes forward, they may lean more towards Wilder’s version.
Why am I thinking this? Because of the image Warner Bros. initially had when tackling Charlie and the Chocolate Factory in 2005. The studio butted heads with Tim Burton’s image of Willy Wonka. At the time, the studio wanted to create a Wonka that would come to embody the father figure Charlie Bucket always wanted. Basically, they wanted a warmer version of what audiences remembered of Wilder’s Wonka. Tim Burton, however, went with a Wonka that was trapped in a childlike state of mind.
Another reason why the Untitled Willy Wonka project may take a more Gene Wilder approach is due to the musical elements that were involved in the 1971 adaptation. Considering Ryan Gosling’s interest and his recent musical-related work in La La Land, it does make one wonder if Warner Bros might be leaning more towards pulling from Wilder’s Wonka adaptation.
What do you think? If Warner Bros goes ahead with this project, what direction do you think that they will take? Do you even think that they will use previous versions of Willy Wonka to inspire their approach? Let us know.