Netflix Acquires Roald Dahl Catalogue: How the Platform Plans to Adapt Your Favorite Childhood Stories

Get ready to be in a world of pure imagination. For the past 60 years, kids all over the planet have fallen in love with books by reading Roald Dahl’s stories. Now Netflix wants you to start the love affair over again with its recent purchase of the Roald Dahl Story Company.

His work has been translated into 63 languages and sold over 300 million copies. Numerous film and television adaptations have been made from Dahl’s twisted tales. That number is only going to increase in the future. 

The first edition book 'Charlie and the Chocolate Factory' and the original hero Golden Egg from the film "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory" on display at Profiles In History in Calabasas, northwest of downtown Los Angeles. Netflix will now adapt Roald Dahl's work into numerous projects
The first edition book ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’ and the original hero Golden Egg from the film ‘Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory’ | Frederic J. Brown /AFP/GettyImages

More Roald Dahl screen adaptations are in the works.

It was announced on September 22 that Netflix bought the rights to the Roald Dahl Story Company. This means that beloved stories like Fantastic Mr. Fox and James and the Giant Peach could be getting fresh onscreen renditions.

“Netflix and The Roald Dahl Story Company share a deep love of storytelling and a growing, global fan base” Netflix’s Ted Sarandos and Luke Kelly, Managing Director of The Roald Dahl Story Company and the author’s grandson, said in a joint statement, per Radio Times

“Together, we have an extraordinary opportunity to write multiple new chapters of these beloved stories, delighting children and adults around the world for generations to come.”

Expect new versions of ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’ and ‘The Twits’

Projects for The BFG and The Twits are already in the works. The latter book is being adapted by Wreck-It Ralph and Zootopia writer Phil Johnston. As of now, no release date has been set for the animated series. However, voice-recording started this year. 

Johnston is also working with Oscar winner and Jojo Rabbit director Taika Waititi on a sweet new series. “Based on the world and characters of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” this animated series started production in 2019 and will follow the novel’s original plot. 

Waititi will also expand the world of the Oompa Loompas. In the novel, the small orange-skinned and green-haired men worked in the chocolate factory. “The shows will retain the quintessential spirit and tone of the original story while building out the world and characters far beyond the pages of the Dahl book for the very first time,” Netflix said in a March 2020 statement.

Gaining Roald Dahl’s catalog could help Netflix win the streaming wars

With the acquisition of all of Dahl’s works, Netflix can remain competitive with other streaming services such as Disney+, HBO Max, and Amazon Prime Video. According to The Roald Dahl Story Company, the deal also benefits the author’s estate. 

“Our mission at the Roald Dahl Story Company is to share the stories’ messages of hope and of the power and the possibility of young people,” Kelly said. 

He continued, adding that Netflix’s acquisition of the company would continue that mission. “With Netflix’s support, we will be able to reach even more young people and families around the world.”

Taika Waititi is not the first famous director to adapt Dahl’s books in recent years. Tim Burton and Nightmare Before Christmas author Henry Selick respectively produced and directed the 1996 stop-motion animated James and the Giant Peach. Burton went on to make Charlie and the Chocolate Factory in 2005.

Wes Anderson also went the stop-motion animation route when he made 2009’s underrated Fantastic Mr. Fox with George Clooney and Meryl Streep. Steven Spielberg adapted The BFG in 2016 to mixed reviews. The second adaption of The Witches starring Anne Hathaway came out on HBO Max in early 2021.

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