Netflix is all-in on Roald Dahl. Not only have they expanded on their initial deal to bring Dahl’s works to life on Netflix, but they also purchased the Roald Dahl Story Company in 2021 for a deal worth more than £500 million. Here’s an updated guide to all the Roald Dahl adaptations on Netflix and what’s coming next.
As we mentioned, Netflix initially signed a deal in November 2018 to work with the Roald Dahl Company on new projects, which included the initial projects listed below but have yet to be released.
Among the titles Netflix had access to in 2018 included Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Matilda, The BFG, The Twits, Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator, George’s Marvellous Medicine, Boy – Tales of Childhood, Going Solo, The Enormous Crocodile, The Giraffe and the Pelly and Me, Henry Sugar, Billy and the Minpins, The Magic Finger, Esio Trot, Dirty Beasts, and Rhyme Stew.
Almost three years later, Netflix went a step further by purchasing the entire company and its IP library. The company is going to act autonomously within the overall Netflix business and is one of Netflix’s first major acquisitions in the content space.
Since the acquisition, new books have been released (albeit with controversy causing a reversal), new collaborations with companies like Calm and a slew of new theatre productions (more on this below).
Born in Llandaff, Cardiff, Roald Dahl was the son of Norwegian immigrant parents. The acclaimed author served in the RAF in WW2 and later worked on propaganda pieces. Despite writing many short adult stories, Dhal will forever be known as a beloved children’s author, which started with Gremlins in 1943 and ended with The Minpins in 1991.
Felipe Tewes serves as director of animation for the Roald Dahl franchise at Netflix having previously worked as director of international originals.
Roald Dahl Adaptations on Netflix
Roald Dahl’s Matilda the Musical (2022)
Book First Published: 1988
On-Screen Adaptations Before Netflix: 1
Netflix Release Date: December 25th, 2022
The 1996 film Matilda is often remembered fondly by all those who were growing up during the 90s, and suffice to say it is still enjoyed by plenty of children today.
Teaming up with Working Title Films and Sony Pictures for distribution in the UK, Netflix released this all-star family musical on Christmas day in 2022.
The adaptation is of the Tony Award-winning musical of the same name by Tim Minchin, with Matthew Warchus directing.
Among the cast for the movie included Emma Thompson embodying perfectly Agatha Trunchbull and Alisha Weir put in a stunning performance as Matilda Wormwood. Rounding out the cast included Lashana Lynch, Stephen Graham, and Andrea Riseborough.
Roald Dahl Movies and Series Coming to Netflix
Wes Anderson Shorts Collection
Over the course of one week in late September 2023, four Roald Dahl shorts will be released on Netflix, all directed by visionary Wes Anderson, who has dealt with Roald Dahl’s material before in the form of Fantastic Mr. Fox.
The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar
Coming to Netflix: September 27th
First premiering at the Venice Film Festival, this is the big 39-minute short that features the talents of Benedict Cumberbatch, Ralph Fiennes, Ben Kingsley, Dev Patel, and Richard Ayoade.
Here’s the synopsis:
“A rich man who learns about a guru who can see without using his eyes and then sets out to master the skill in order to cheat at gambling.”
Coming to Netflix: September 28th
The second of the shorts is a live-action one that also featured in the Henry Sugar collection of stories. It’s about a small/brilliant boy ruthlessly pursued by two large/idiotic bullies.
Rupert Friend, Asa Jennings, and Ralph Fiennes star in this particular short, which has a runtime of 17 minutes.
Coming to Netflix: September 29th
This stop-motion animated short has a runtime of just under 20 minutes and sees Ayoade, Fiennes, and Friend lend their voices.
The story wasn’t in the main Henry Sugar collection but rather featured in the Someone Like You and Sweet Mystery short story collections. The short is about a “professional rodent exterminator.”
Coming to Netflix: September 30th
This short story featured in More Tales of the Unexpected and Someone Like You, telling the story of a man who discovers a poisonous snake asleep in his bed.
Patel, Cumberbatch, Fiennes, and Kingsley all feature in this final live-action short.
Roald Dahl Movies and Series In Development
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
First Published: 1964
Previous On-Screen Adaptations: 2
Netflix Release Date: TBA
Unsurprisingly, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was announced to be one of the first of the Road Dahl projects to get underway at Netflix. It took just over 16 months for the announcement, but we now have confirmation that Thor: Ragnarok and Jojo Rabbit director Taika Waititi will write, direct, and executive produce both Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator.
The beloved children’s novel was first published in 1964, making it almost 60 years old! Another mind-blower is the beloved classic adaptation, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, starring Gene Wilder, now over 50 years old celebrating its 50th anniversary in August 2021.
Production is still ongoing on the animated project with many animators listing the project in production from 2022 through to the present.
Upon finding one of five sought-after golden tickets, Charlie Bucket is invited to take a grand tour of the world-famous Willy Wonka factory. Accompanied by his Grandpa Joe, Charlie is also joined by four other children, whose habits and mannerisms are far from delightful. What’s inside the factory will change Charlie’s life forever.
Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator
First published: 1972
Previous On-Screen Adaptations: 0
Netflix Release Date: TBA
Taika Waititi will also be responsible for the first on-screen adaptation of Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator. Even though the beloved children’s novel is almost 50 years old, no one has taken on the project until now. Just like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, the sequel, Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator will be written, directed and executive produced by Taika Waititi.
The plot is far more outlandish than its predecessor, but if there’s anyone who can take on the bizarre and zany story and smash it out of the park, it must be Taika Waititi.
After launching into the sky with the Great Glass Elevator, Willy Wonka, Charlie, and Grandpa Joe arrive at Space Hotel USA. The trio is mistaken for spies by approaching astronauts and the President of the United States. However, shortly after their arrival, they discover that the hotel has been taken over by dangerous, shape-shifting alien monsters known as The Vermicious Knids.
First Published: 1980
Previous On-Screen Adaptations: 0
Netflix Release Date: TBA
Yet to get an adaptation is The Twits.
There were plans for many years to produce a feature film for The Twits, but the project was abandoned around 2012. John Cleese was set to write the script, along with Kirk De Micco. Disney would have produced the film alongside the animation studio Vanguard Film & Animation.
In July 2021, we first reported that the project was moving forward and had boarded Wreck-it Ralph writer Phil Johnston to join the project.
In 2022, The Wrap reported that the limited series plans for The Twits had been scrapped and were then being developed as a movie. We’ve seen numerous people attached to a movie project with Phil Johnston directing, which seems to stack up.
Mr. and Mrs. Twit, two retired circus trainers, are the nastiest and ugliest pair around, constantly pranking each other, each nastier than the last. From training a poor family of monkeys, the Muggle-Wumps, to capturing birds for their pies with superglue, the Twits are incredibly fiendish. When the family of monkeys is visited by the Roly-Poly bird, they devise a plan with their visitor to take down the Twits for good.
Upcoming Roald Dahl Theater Productions
In May 2023, Netflix and Roald Dahl Story Company announced that they had three stage-theater productions in the works led by director Jenny Worton and executive producer Anna Schmitz:
- A new musical for young audiences of The Enormous Crocodile, co-produced with Leeds Playhouse and Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre.
- A new theatrical reading of Roald Dahl’s The Magic Finger presented for online release for schools and families, co-produced with the Unicorn Theatre.
- A spectacular large-scale circus, which is currently in development, inspired by Roald Dahl’s stories and featuring a range of beloved characters.
Which Roald Dahl animated series are you looking forward to most on Netflix? Let us know in the comments below.