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Release Date: July 15th, 2005 (wide)

Release Date Note: (10/8/03) Although this movie has long been expected to be a fall, 2005 release, I've now received word that Warner Bros. is currently aiming for June, 2005 instead. This decision may be somewhat tied to their decision to release the Tim-Burton-produced The Corpse Bride in October, 2005. (4/9/04) Warner Bros. has bumped this movie back a few weeks until July 15th, 2005.

MPAA Rating: PG (for quirky situations, action and mild language)

Distributor: Warner Bros.

Production Company: Basic Entertainment (City by the Sea), Plan B Films (Troy)

Cast: Johnny Depp (Willy Wonka), Freddie Highmore (Charlie Bucket), David Kelly (Grandpa Joe), Anna Sophia Robb (Violet Beauregarde), Julia Winter (Veruca Salt), Jordan Fry, Philip Wiegratz; other cast not announced yet.

Cast Notes: (2/7/01) When this project was announced in 1999, Nicolas Cage appeared in some sources as a rumored Willy Wonka possibility, but Warner Bros. has stressed since that there will be no casting until the time of actual filming approaches. One actor who's expressed interest in playing Willy Wonka is Boogie Nights star John C. Reilly. Rock star Marilyn Manson was quoted in early 2001 as saying that he had been cast to play Willy Wonka, a story which was quickly publicized without, you know, checking with anyone actually involved with the film. Warner Bros. quickly issued a press release debunking the reports (they also had Tim Burton listed as directing, which he isn't).

(7/29/03) Casting rumors started to swirl again this month, first with a report from the British press that the two top contenders to play Willy Wonka were Michael Keaton and Christopher Walken. Soon after, however, Michael Fleming of "Variety" broke the *real* story, which was that the real top choice for the job is Johnny Depp. All three are part of Tim Burton's very insular canon of actors, but Johnny Depp in particular, does stand out as being a) a particularly frequent Burton star and b) just the right mix of star power, daring and quirkiness and that certain something that makes you think an actor could do Willy Wonka. I think Johnny Depp is an inspired choice. Here's hoping he does indeed sign on. (8/20/03) Following up on from his earlier scoop, Michael Fleming now reports that Depp and Burton have indeed met about the role, an offer has been made, and he is now officially in negotiations with the studio. (6/1/04) The three most famous child roles have been cast: Charlie, Violet and Veruca Salt. (7/6/04) David Kelly, the wispily thin star of Waking Ned Devine, has joined the cast as Grandpa Joe, who accompanies Charlie and Willy through their tour of the factory. That pretty much locks up the biggest chunk of the cast (except for the rest of Charlie's family, family members of the other kids, etc.).

Director: Tim Burton (Sleepy Hollow, Ed Wood, Batman, Edward Scissorhands, Planet of the Apes; Big Fish is his latest)

Director Note: (10/15/01) Gary Ross (Pleasantville) was long attached, but has dropped out. (6/18/02) Rob Minkoff (Stuart Little; codirector of The Lion King; next up is Stuart Little 2) is one of the directors on WB's short list, but he's not signed. (5/26/03) And the winner is... exactly the guy one probably would have expected when you first heard they were making this remake: Tim Burton. Burton's flamboyant and dark visual style seems cookie-cutter made for this project.

Screenwriter: John August (Go, Big Fish; cowriter of Titan A.E., Charlie's Angels, Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle)

Screenwriter Notes: (2/27/02) Scott Frank (Little Man Tate, Out of Sight, Get Shorty, Dead Again; cowriter of Minority Report) helped get this project started at Warner Bros., but he's been replaced by Lurie, who's working from scratch. (12/22/03) Gwyn Lurie's script received a rewrite by Pamela Pettler (cowriter of The Corpse Bride), but all of those drafts have now been ditched in favor of the hiring of Tim Burton's Big Fish screenwriter, John August, who will start over from scratch with a fresh adaptation of the novel.

Based Upon: The 1964 novel of the same title by Roald Dahl. This is not a direct remake of the 1971 film, Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, starring Gene Wilder, although both movies are obviously based on the same book. This film is aiming to be more faithful to the original book than Willy Wonka. One expected change is that this probably won't be a musical.

Oompa-Loompa Note: As noted at this fan site, in the original 1964 edition of the novel, the Oompa-Loompa's were pygmies from Africa imported to replace the local workers (part of why the city is so impoverished). This movie will definitely use the Oompa-Loompas with "rosy-white skin", as depicted in later editions.

Premise: Charlie Bucket, a boy from an impoverished family under the shadow of a giant chocolate factory, wins a candy bar contest and is given a tour, along with four other children, of the amazing factory run by the eccentric Willy Wonka and his staff of Oompa-Loompas...

Filming: Production is scheduled to start on June 21st, 2004 at Pinewood Studios near London, on (at least) five of their largest soundstages.

Genre: Based on a Book, Eye Candy, Fantasy, Kids (note: this will not be a musical like the Willy Wonka movie was)

Unofficial Author Fan Site: (They've done a nice job of archiving some of the press about this film from the last few years; here's links to their pages about the book and Oompa-Loompas)

Official Author Site: (Nothing there about this movie, as of 2/7/01, but you can find plenty about the book upon which it's based)

Comments from the Director: Chicago Sun-Times

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Input about Greg's Previews of upcoming Movies, or any movie covered here, is encouraged. Just e-mail Greg Dean Schmitz using our feedback form. Please note that all release dates are subject to change.

Greg's Previews Main Page

Recent Updates to This Page:
7/05/05 - MPAA Rating
7/06/04 - Cast Notes, Cast
4/11/04 - Filming

Greg's Preview Thoughts:
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8/20/03 - Never mind Scorsese... the idea of Johnny Depp and Tim Burton reuniting for a fourth time to do this movie: it's completely inspired. Here's hoping Burton goes completely gonzo on this one.

5/26/03 - As intriguing a thought the idea of Martin Scorsese directing this project might have been, the "why didn't I think of that?" perfect director signed on this week... Tim Burton. If he can whip up the same level of visual energy that he poured into Beetlejuice, we're in for a real treat come late 2005. Neat.

5/07/03 - In a recent "Variety" article about Warner Bros' long-term plans, this film was mentioned as one of their five big tentpole releases for 2005, giving this film a year of release for the first time. Might this then indeed be Martin Scorsese's next film after The Aviator, which he is filming this year for a 2004 release?

4/18/02 - In their recent Power 100 issue, Premiere listed (as noticed by AICN) this as a possible project for director Martin Scorsese (whose next film is expected to be Untitled Howard Hughes Project). That doesn't mean he's signed, or if he does, that it will happen anytime soon (he's got a list of over a dozen projects on his plate to possibly direct), but well, it's just... a possibility. Obviously, if Martin Scorsese actually did direct this movie, it would become elevated to a whole different level among many people, possibly attracting adult movie fans who might not ordinarily see a "kids movie"... it would be an "important movie", because for movie folk, Scorsese movies are always "important movies."

4/01/02 - Well, Minkoff is also in talks to direct Disney's Haunted Mansion this fall, so if WB wants him, they're probably going to have to wait another year or so.

2/27/02 - Variety reports that a new writer, Gwyn Lurie, has been brought aboard to work on the script from scratch, with the word that Minkoff is also just one of several directors on the "short list" of possibilities.

10/15/01 - That didn't take long. Variety reports that Rob Minkoff (Stuart Little) is now in talks to direct. They also report, however, that Ross is still aboard as screenwriter. Should this be Minkoff's fourth film, it will firmly establish him as a director of children's films, following The Lion King and the two Stuart Little's.

10/05/01 - Last month, as it turns out, IGN FilmForce reported that Frank and Ross have dropped out, to be replaced by a new writer and director, hopefully soon.

2/07/01 - Sometimes when a movie is based on a book, especially when the movie is popular, the movie version becomes the one that most people know, regardless of how different it might be from its source text. This is certainly true of The Wizard of Oz (the other Oz books, in particular, go off in very different directions), and to a certain extent, it's true of Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory. I wouldn't go so far as to say that movie reduced Charlie to a supporting character, but it did have some significant changes, specifcally in shortening the pre-factory story, bulking up the tour of the factory, and adding songs.

One reason Warner Brother might also be so careful to note that this is not a remake is that, well, regardless of how different it might be from the book, people love the Willy Wonka movie as it is. It's one of Gene Wilder's best roles, the music is indeed quite good, and the visual wonder, for its time, is effective. I'm not much for redundant remakes of films that already work, but in this case, I'm willing to give Gary Ross the benefit of the doubt, because Pleasantville was well-made.

This project has been around since 1999, a few months after the Pleasantville release, but what sparked me to add a preview page for this project which has no definite start date (ie, it may still be a few years; or it could be later in 2001... time will tell), is all of the hubbub recently of Marilyn Manson and Tim Burton being involved. These rumors started with the British press, and WB has debunked them as being 100% untrue. What these stories, picked up by several mainstream press without bothering to check them first (something websites like my own are more reliable about doing than "legitimate" press, it appears), confirm is that movie fans are interested in knowing about this project, even if they're going to be disappointed that Tim Burton is not involved in any way. About Marilyn Manson... well, he's a "shock rocker", and this is another case of him being shocking. I should note that the Manson quote was apparently out of context. This movie will probably have more in common with Harry Potter.

Now that the fuss has been cleared up, we can go back to waiting patiently for this project. I'm sure that when Gary Ross does prep up for production, there will be a good deal of casting news and speculation (who will play Charlie, Willy, Grandpa, etc.). Nicolas Cage was rumored back in 1999, but at this late point, I would guess the field is probably wide open.

Page Created: 2/7/01

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