Streaming service giant Netflix has just recently announced that they will be adapting the works of British writer Roald Dahl. In a press release across social media, Netflix said they will be a “new slate of animated event series.” Among the Dahl stories in the release slate are Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Matilda, The BFG, and The Twits.
Most of these titles are very familiar to SCIFI.radio readers, as these stories already have some very iconic cinematic adaptations. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was first adapted to screen in 1971 and starred Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka, and in 2005 starring Johnny Depp as Wonka. Matilda had a splendidly successful film in 1996 directed by and starring Danny DeVito, and The BFG directed by Steven Spielberg was released just in 2016. Other cinematic adaptations of Dahl’s works are 1996’s James and the Giant Peach and 2009’s Fantastic Mr. Fox*.
The appetite for Dahl’s work has always been high. His books have been adapted as traditional animation as early as 1970’s The Phantom Tollbooth and 1971’s The Point.
It probably goes without saying that these cinematic adaptations are largely successful and beloved even to this day. Thus, Netflix most definitely has their work cut out for them, in trying to create these new animated features to reach those same thresholds in the minds and hearts of their audience.
This announcement could also be seen as a continuation of the ever-growing “streaming wars” between services competing for the public’s viewership, especially in regards to gaining the rights to adapt popular and adored book catalogs of famous authors.
Amazon Prime has recently announced coming adaptations of J.R.R. Tolkien, author of The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings and more Middle-earth stories, and Robert Jordan, author of the successful fantasy series The Wheel of Time. Hulu currently is working on adapting the Vampire Chronicles by acclaimed author Anne Rice. Netflix has also confirmed recently that they are set to adapt The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis. It seems likely that all these services will announce even more adaptations of cherished novels.
These new adaptations of Roald Dahl and other venerated authors are another salvo in the ever-escalating streaming wars. Will they be worthy of the effort? All we can do for now is wait and see.
*No, 1968’s Chitty Chitty Bang Bang seems like it would be a Roald Dahl book to movie thing, but the book for that was written by Ian Fleming, the same writer who invented James Bond and wrote all those spy novels.