Netflix Reportedly Drops $1 Billion For Rights To Roald Dahl Classics

Get ready to relive the most delightful and whimsical literature from your childhood because Netflix has announced it will be adapting Roald Dahl's iconic children's books into animated features, breathing new life into the classic tales.

Over the years, many of Dahl's most prolific works have made the transition from page to screen, including the 1971 film Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, the 1996 Matilda flick and, most recently, the Disney live-action adaptation of The BFG. However, this deal actually marks the first time these works have been made into animated versions, BBC News reported.

Each book will be adapted into standalone "specials" rather than a multi-season show like we've seen with A Series of Unfortunate Events, though exact running times have yet to be announced. It will certainly be interesting to see how Netflix chooses to condense some of Dahl's longer works, like Matilda, into shorter specials, and stretch some of his shorter works, like The Enormous Crocodile which is only 32 pages long.

In a recently released statement, Netflix explained the animated adaptations will be part of an "exclusive new slate of original animated even series," and revealed the author's most popular titles, like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Matilda, The BFG, and The Twits will be among the more than 15 of Dahl's books to grace the service.

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This deal has been made in partnership with the late author's family and the Roald Dahl Story Company, dedicated to preserving Dahl's legacy and managing the copyrights/trademarks to his works.

"Our mission, which is purposefully lofty, is for as many children as possible around the world to experience the unique magic and positive message of Roald Dahl’s stories,” Roald Dahl’s widow, Felicity Dahl, said in the statement. “This partnership with Netflix marks a significant move toward making that possible and is an incredibly exciting new chapter for the Roald Dahl Story Company."

"Roald would, I know, be thrilled," she added.

Melissa Cobb, Vice President of Kids & Family Content at Netflix, said the company plans to "reimagine the journeys of so many treasured Dahl characters in fresh, contemporary ways" while still staying true to the original content, and will also feature the "highest quality" of animation and production values.

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The Hollywood Reporter has claimed the deal cost Netflix a cool nine-figures (about $1 billion) just to acquire the rights to Dahl's collective works. While there are currently no writers or animators attached to the project yet, THR estimates the total production budget for the series and its specials will likely exceed $500 million.

This isn't the first time the streaming service has dolled out serious cash to acquire the rights to some big literary works — THR reported Netflix has already paid for the rights to C.S. Lewis' Narnia series, as well as comic book creator Mark Millar's series, Millarworld, each likely costing the media giant millions.

Though a total of 16 titles will become animated, there are some Dahl classes that have been left out of the adaptation, including The Witches, which had a 1990 film adaption and currently has a remake in the works. Also missing are Fantastic Mr. Fox and James and the Giant Peach, both previously adapted into feature films. While not currently listed as part of the series, only time will tell if these classics will join the others and see a new life as animated specials on Netflix.

There is currently no official release date available, but production on the first adaptation in the animated series is due to begin in 2019.


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