Wonka is a prequel to the classic Gene Wilder movie Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Timothee Chalamet will star as a young Willy Wonka.
The story of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory has stood the test of time with Roald Dahl’s initial book getting a couple of movie adaptations over the years. And though we’ve been rather well-versed in what happens with Willy Wonka and his sweets empire, we don’t know a ton about what happened first. How did he become the man we see later on in films?
Finding out how Wonka became Wonka is the central idea of Wonka, the upcoming prequel movie with Timothee Chalamet in the lead role. Let’s take a look at everything we know about Wonka so far, one of the more anticipated movies coming out in the next few years.
WONKA TRAILER RELEASES
The trailer for the prequel Wonka released and unfortunately sparked disappointment and skepticism. Despite Timothee Chalamet’s rising stardom, the trailer was criticized for attempting to answer questions about Wonka’s backstory that nobody really asked. It seems to maintain the character’s core traits rather than exploring his evolution.
One major concern is the trailer’s apparent clash of tones, oscillating between ironic deconstruction and magical escapism. The presence of special effects raised worries that the film prioritized CGI over compelling storytelling and character development.
The trailer lacks the charm and charisma of the original Gene Wilder portrayal. .Despite reservations, there remains hope that the actual film might offer a well-crafted script and compelling characters, but the trailer has left many unsure about its potential.
THIS IS A PREQUEL MOVIE
Wonka is going to be a prequel story, meant to follow the titular main character in his years before he started the famous Chocolate Factory and candy empire laid out in the Roald Dahl book. While we aren’t sure what this will look like, we know that there are hints about this time period in the original book.
Some context was provided by Charlie’s dad saying that there was a point that Willy Wonka had been out more in the public eye but had his recipes and creations stolen by various competitors. This led, eventually, to Wonka becoming much more secretive and reclusive in his practices before opening things up to the “public” in search of an heir to the factory.
It would make sense that Wonka would detail some of this history and how it was that he became so adept at creating all kinds of cool desserts and sugary treats. Plus, we have to find out how he came to have a working relationship with the Oompa-Loompas who are what keep the factory running by the time we reach the events of both Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
Again, this is all a bit of conjecture because there aren’t a ton of other details about the movie yet, but considering the studio put this out as a general plot note about the movie, it would make sense for things to go this way.
TIMOTHEE CHALAMET IS WILLY WONKA
As stated, Timothee Chalamet is taking on the role of the young Willy Wonka. The actor’s star has been on the rise over the last couple of years and he’s leading in some of the highest-profile studio work there is going these days.
He’s coming off playing Paul Atreides in the Dune adaptation which came out in 2021. He’s set to reprise the role in the sequel, which will further the story while also diving much deeper into his character’s relationship with the Fremen and specifically Zendaya’s Chandi.
Other notable Timothee Chalamet roles include Don’t Look Up and The French Dispatch. The 27-year-old sure seems like one of the perfect picks to take on the main role in Wonka, a character we’ve seen played by Gene Wilder and Johnny Depp in the past.
Considering this is a fresh take on the character, exploring the younger years, there won’t necessarily be an overlap with those two stories and it’s not based on a younger version of either, specifically. That being said, it will be hard not to picture Timothee Chalamet’s character aging into one while watching this version of the movie.
There were some early, behind-the-scenes looks at how Timothee Chalamet cuts the Willy Wonka cloth with pics leaking out a few months ago from the set. Check it out:
He certainly looks the part, especially when we picture the previous versions of the character. Obviously, the movie would want to keep things in line there.
THE CAST OF WILLY WONKA
There are a number of big names in Wonka besides just the starring role for Timothee Chalamet. Notables include Keegan-Michael Key as the Chief of Police, Rowan Atkinson as Father Julius, Olivia Colman as Mrs. Scrubbit, abd Hugh Grant as an Oompa-Loompa.
The latter casting of Grant drew some criticism from the likes of George Coppen (Willow) among others who said, “A lot of people, myself included, argue that dwarfs should be offered everyday roles in dramas and soaps, but we aren’t getting offered those roles…”
PAUL KING IS ON AS DIRECTOR
Paul King is on to direct Wonka and has plenty of experience in bringing stories that have some cross-appeal between adults and children, setting this movie up to be a family affair. Other versions could trend on the darker side, though we suitable for most audiences. This one could be more palatable as a movie suited for all ages.
That’s because Paul King has helmed Paddington and Paddington 2, both of which were critically acclaimed for the handling of this somewhat timeless story. The first one hit 97 percent on Rotten Tomatoes and the second was 99 percent on the review aggregator. That’s about as good as it gets.
Handling the script for Wonka is Simon Faranby who had a hand in penning Paddington 2 and has some other smaller writing credits as well. But considering there’s a working relationship with Paul King here, it stands to reason they’ve landed together on something that really works.
WONKA WILL RELEASE IN THEATERS ON DECEMBER 15, 2023
We still have some time until Wonka hits the big screen. Though principal photography and filming had already gotten underway, it will be more than a year until the movie comes to theaters. The tentative release date for Wonka is December 15, 2023. While not a Christmas movie per se, there are certain elements of the Willy Wonka story that do play well for the holidays, so the timing of this does make sense.
While still a ways off, we are sure to get more looks into Wonka over the rest of this year, which could give a better sense of how this movie will lay itself out.