Nearly three years after Netflix signed a deal with The Roald Dahl Story Company to create a universe of animated features based on the author’s books, the company has acquired the works outright. Netflix made the deal official on Wednesday after news of the impending deal was first reported by Bloomberg on Tuesday.
There’s no word on exactly how much it costs to own Willy Wonka, the BFG, Matilda, and all the rest, but in 2018, The Hollywood Reporter cited sources claiming that simply licensing 16 titles from the catalog cost Netflix more than $100 million. A deal for this catalog would likely rank as Netflix’s largest, and if it’s close enough that an announcement is possible within “days,” as the report suggests, we could hear more during Netflix’s Tudum fan event this weekend.
Under the previous deal, Taika Waititi is working on Roald Dahl animated series projects for Netflix, covering Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and its sequel, Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator. That’s in addition to two different versions of Matilda, including a film version of Matilda the Musical and an animated series, plus plans to make a The BFG cartoon.
At those costs, it’s clear why Netflix would be ready to pay whatever it costs to secure rights to those properties long-term. Prior to the deal’s announcement, Bloomberg noted that it would happen despite the shadow cast by Dahl’s history of antisemitic statements and sometimes misogynistic storytelling. The Dahl Family and the Roald Dahl Story Company released an apology for the remarks in 2020, saying, “We hope that, just as he did at his best, at his absolute worst, Roald Dahl can help remind us of the lasting impact of words.”