Wonka is a 2023 musical fantasy film directed by Paul King, who co-wrote the screenplay with Simon Farnaby. It tells the origin story of Willy Wonka, a character in Roald Dahl’s 1964 novel Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. The film stars Timothée Chalamet in the title role of Willy Wonka, featuring his early days as an eccentric chocolatier. Chalamet and newcomer Calah Lane lead an eleven-actor ensemble cast including Keegan-Michael Key, Paterson Joseph, Matt Lucas, Mathew Baynton, Sally Hawkins, Rowan Atkinson, Jim Carter, Tom Davis, Olivia Colman, and Hugh Grant.
Development began after Warner Bros. Pictures, which previously released its own adaptation of the novel in 2005, acquired the rights to the titular character in October 2016 and revealed the film would serve as an origin story for Wonka. In May 2021, Chalamet was confirmed to be playing Wonka and the supporting cast were announced in September of that year. Principal photography began in the United Kingdom in September 2021. Filming took place in Warner Bros. Studios, Leavesden in Watford, as well as Lyme Regis, Bath, St Albans and at the Rivoli Ballroom in Crofton Park, London. Scenes were shot in Oxford in December and February. The original songs for the film were contributed by Neil Hannon, while its original score was provided by Joby Talbot.
Wonka is scheduled to be released in the United States and United Kingdom on December 15, 2023.
The story of how Willy Wonka went from a young adult selling chocolate in a small candy store to an eccentric genius known all the world over. It will give perspective on the character’s life before he went into the chocolate business, what caused him to make the decision, and what factors made him stay.
- Timothée Chalamet as Willy Wonka, an eccentric chocolatier. According to Chalamet, he was Paul King’s first and only choice to pick for the role after seeing his high school YouTube performances online that proved his vocal and dancing skills. Before Chalamet was cast, Donald Glover, Ryan Gosling, and Ezra Miller were initially meant to portray the titular character.
- Calah Lane as Noodle
- Keegan-Michael Key
- Paterson Joseph as Arthur Slugworth
- Matt Lucas as Prodnose
- Mathew Baynton as Ficklegruber
- Sally Hawkins as Willy Wonka’s mother
- Rowan Atkinson as a priest
- Jim Carter
- Tom Davis
- Olivia Colman
- Hugh Grant as an Oompa-Loompa
- Natasha Rothwell
- Rich Fulcher
- Rakhee Thakrar
- Kobna Holdbrook-Smith
- Simon Farnaby
- Colin O’Brien
- Ellie White
- Murray McArthur
- Tracy Ifeachor
- Isy Suttie
In October 2016, Warner Bros. Pictures acquired the rights to the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (1964) character Willy Wonka created by Roald Dahl, with a film in development from producers David Heyman and Michael Siegel. In February 2018, it was announced Paul King was in negotiations to direct. That same year, it was reported the studio’s shortlist of actors to star as Willy Wonka included Donald Glover, Ryan Gosling, and Ezra Miller, and it was revealed the film would serve as a prequel to the events of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
In January 2021, it was confirmed King would direct the film, now titled Wonka. In May, Timothée Chalamet was cast in the title role and it was announced the film would include several musical numbers. Chalamet was the director’s only and first pick for the role, stating he offered the actor the part with no audition after seeing his high school YouTube performances online that proved his vocal and dancing skills. It was also revealed the film would be using a screenplay co-written by his Paddington 2 (2017) collaborator Simon Farnaby; Jeff Nathanson, Simon Rich, and Simon Stephenson also provided additional literary material. Tom Holland had also been a frontrunner for the role before Chalamet was cast. In September 2021, it was announced Keegan-Michael Key, Sally Hawkins, Rowan Atkinson, Olivia Colman, and Jim Carter were among the newest additions to the cast, with Farnaby also set for a role.
Principal photography began in the United Kingdom in September 2021, with Seamus McGarvey set as cinematographer, Nathan Crowley as production designer, Mark Everson as film editor, and Lindy Hemming as costume designer. Filming took place in Lyme Regis and Bath, as well as at Warner Bros. Studios, Leavesden in Watford. Filming also occurred at the Rivoli Ballroom in Brockley, London. By December, McGarvey exited as cinematographer with Chung Chung-hoon replacing him. Scenes were shot in Oxford in December and February.
Neil Hannon, lead singer of the band The Divine Comedy, contributes original songs for the film. The musical score was composed by Joby Talbot.
Wonka is scheduled to be theatrically released by Warner Bros. Pictures on December 15, 2023 in both conventional theaters and in Dolby Cinema and IMAX. It was originally set for March 17, 2023.
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