Trivia: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Enough trivia and what-could-have-beens surround this novel and its myriad adaptations that they've warranted whole books of their own: Spotty Powder and Other Splendiferous Secrets
, Pure Imagination
(1971 film-specific), and the 50th anniversary Milestone Celebration Inside Charlie's Chocolate Factory
. Consider the information below a highlight reel.
- Adaptation Overdosed: In addition to the two films, the opera, the West End musical, and quite a few audiobook versions, there's:
- A non-musical stage play by Richard George that's extremely faithful to the book; Dahl approved of it.
- A BBC Radio 4 adaptation in The Eighties. Note: One troper was an Oompa-Loompa in the radio adaptation, and has spent years trying to track down a recording.
- A musical stage adaptation by Jeremy Raison and Christopher Reason that toured the U.K. and elsewhere in The Eighties.
- A 1985 video game for the ZX Spectrum.
- Roald Dahl's Willy Wonka, a 2005 U.S. stage musical created for the touring children's theatre circuit. It uses the 1971 film's songs and adds new numbers by Leslie Bricusse, the film's lyricist, but the script is significantly different to the point that it isn't promoted as the loose Screen-to-Stage Adaptation it is. Notable for existing in four different versions, ranging from a half-hour "Kids" version (suitable for a grade-school assembly, say) to a full-length version that can use child and adult actors.
- The 2005 film had several tie-in video games.
- A 2006 Disney-style combination boat/simulator ride at the U.K. theme park Alton Towers.
- In 2013, WMS Gaming introduced video slot machines based on the 1971 film!
- The online game Poptropica has an island themed after the novel.
- Cash Cow Franchise: Qualifies as this for Roald Dahl's estate, if only because it's Adaptation Overdosed.
- Defictionalization: The first film adaptation was largely Merchandise-Driven. Quaker Oats gave a ton of money to the production and then changed the name of an upcoming candy line to Wonka, which is also one reason for its title change. That line initially flopped, but the brand was subsequently retooled and relaunched — it is currently owned by Nestlé. Ironically, the Wonka brand is best-known for non-chocolate products (Nerds are their most famous original creation, and their Everlasting Gobstoppers don't last forever, unfortunately), and is more popular in the U.S. than the U.K. But they do have several varieties of chocolate bars in the U.K., and Nestlé even supplied all of the edible prop candy for the 2005 film.
- Now there also is an inflatable blueberry suit (obviously NSFW), to imitate Violet's transformation .
- Milestone Celebration: The 50th anniversary in 2014 ("50 Whipple-Scrumptious Years", as the official logo put it) was marked with a variety of events and offerings and specifically kicked off on January 31st, since that's the day Charlie finds his Golden Ticket.
- Penguin Books added the novel to their adult-oriented Penguin Modern Classics line, which went awry due to having a Contemptible Cover. It had several kid-friendlier anniversary editions too, including deluxe reissues of both the Joseph Schindelman and Quentin Blake-illustrated editions (the latter in full-color for the first time).
- The retrospective book Inside Charlie's Chocolate Factory was released.
- Other events included contests in the U.S. and U.K., and the annual Puffin Virtually Live school webcast that marks Roald Dahl's birthday was centered on the book. While the 2013 West End stage musical was not specifically mounted to tie in to this anniversary, it was incorporated into many of the U.K.-based events, such as the webcast and an Easter-season window display at the Piccadilly Circus Waterstone's bookstore that recreated its sets in miniature with chocolate biscuits. The show's director Sam Mendes also wrote the introduction to the aforementioned Modern Classics edition of the novel.
- What Could Have Been: The original concept for the story didn't have any children in it! After that, there were multiple drafts, each with different numbers of children (anywhere from five up to thirty) with different personalities and fates, as explained below. The general plot was different too: In an early draft the factory tours were a weekly event, Willy Wonka had a son called Freddie, and the story ended with Charlie getting his own chocolate shop. There's a lot of information here. Highlights of the could-have-beens:
- Miranda Mary Piker was a school-obsessed swot. Rough draft material from this subplot, in which she and her headmaster father meet their comeuppance trying to destroy a machine that makes a powder that allows one to play sick for the day, is featured in the book Spotty Powder and Other Splendiferous Secrets (The Missing Golden Ticket and... in the U.S.).
- Marvin Prune was a very conceited boy.
- Miranda Grope would have disappeared up the pipes along with Augustus Gloop.
- Wilbur Rice and Timmy Troutbeck rode off atop the carts hauling fudge away from Vanilla Fudge Mountain to The Pounding and Cutting Room.
- Clarence Crump, Bertie Upside, and Trevor Roper ate handfuls of Warming Candies and were only saved from inwardly-firey death by being put in a refrigerator.
- Augustus Gloop was originally named Augustus Pottle, Violet Beauregarde had the alternate last names of Glockenberry and Strabismus, Veruca Salt started out with the name Elvira Entwhistle, and — this is absolutely true — Mike Teavee's original name was Herpes Trout.
- The Oompa-Loompas' original name was the Whipple-Scrumpets. (In the finished book, Charlie's favorite variety of Wonka Bar happens to be the Whipple-Scrumptious Fudgemallow Delight.)
- Originally Mrs. Bucket was Charlie's companion on the tour rather than Grandpa Joe, the Wonka Factory had conventional workers rather than Oompa-Loompas, and instead of elaborate poems verses of an And Then There Were None-esque ditty came in the wake of each child's fate.
- And very early on, Charlie was black. Dahl's editor convinced him to drop that idea.
The 1971 film
The 2005 film
- Acting for Two Thousand: Every single Oompa-Loompa, even the female ones, are played by Deep Roy. Some (jackhammer, boat-rowers) are completely animatronic. Also, though some shots are recycled, minimal CGI was used - rather, Roy had to be filmed as each individual Oompa-Loompa. Don't worry, he got paid through the nose for his hard work!
- Adored by the Network: This is a favorite of ABC Family's weekend/Christmas-season movie lineups, and often presented as a double feature with the 1971 version, which also qualifies for this trope.
- Creator Backlash: Of a sort. Gene Wilder says that, while he likes Tim Burton, he doesn't care much for this adaptation.
- Doing It for the Art: With regards to the Nut Room sequence, Tim Burton was so dead set on avoiding using CGI that he paid a team of animal trainers to train 40 real squirrels for it. It took 19 weeks of painstaking work, training each squirrel individually, but they pulled it off. And all for a scene that takes up less than 10 minutes of screen time.
- Executive Veto: Originally, Warner Bros. wanted to cast Jim Carrey as Mr. Wonka and reteam him with director Tom Shadyac (the Ace Ventura films, Liar Liar). Roald Dahl's widow Felicity vetoed this.
- Hey, It's That Guy!: Bellatrix Lestrange and Locke are the proud parents of Norman Bates who inherits the chocolate factory from Sweeney Todd!
- Leslie Burke also wins a golden ticket and gets inflated like a blueberry.
- Hey, It's That Voice!: The Narrator is Geoffrey Holder, better known as Baron Samedi.
- I Want You to Meet an Old Friend of Mine: Johnny Depp was so pleased with Freddie Highmore's work in Finding Neverland that he asked Tim Burton to let Highmore screen test.
- Production Posse: Johnny Depp and Tim Burton.
- Technology Marches On: Mike uses his computer to deduce the location of one of the Golden Tickets. In the 1971 film, a squad of professional programmers spend a lot of time and money to develop a massive supercomputer for this very purpose and suffer an odd A.I. Is a Crapshoot moment - see that page for details.
- What Could Have Been: The Other Wiki has a history of this film's development and could-have-beens, but in addition to the facts listed there:
- Marilyn Manson campaigned for the role of Willy Wonka.
- Frank Oz was also attached to the director's chair before Tim Burton took over.
- Burton considered casting Christopher Walken as Wonka before going with Johnny Depp.
- Michael Jackson, according to his brother Jermaine's book You Are Not Alone, was all set to campaign for the Wonka role — and then he was charged of child molestation for the second time in his career in 2003. Colleague/producer Marc Schaffel goes further with this, claiming that Michael actually wrote a whole soundtrack for the movie and submitted it to Warner Bros. back in 2000, figuring that they would give him the lead on the basis of it. But though executives loved it, they were not comfortable casting him as Willy Wonka, and offered to find another role in the film for him in exchange for the soundtrack. Michael was too dead set on the lead role to allow this. A few weeks before the movie hit theaters in July 2005, Jackson had been declared not guilty of the charges after a high-profile trial, so the unintentional, superficial resemblances between him and Depp's take on Wonka were brought up in many reviews and commentaries and Burton had to go on record as saying it was not a parody. (Years later, Douglas Hodge would acknowledge Jackson as one of many, many inspirations for his very different interpretation of Wonka in the West End musical.)
- Sam Neill auditioned for the role of Mr. Salt, but Burton said he wanted Johnny Depp to be the only name actor in the movie. (As for Christopher Lee's appearance, that's more Creator Thumbprint.)
- Gregory Peck was first offered the role of Grandpa Joe, and he told Warner Brothers that he'd consider it. Sadly, he died before he could give his answer, but his family has revealed he was very eager to play the part. The only reason he didn't say yes right away was because he was afraid it would make him seem desperate and cause the studio to give him a lower paycheck.
- Warner Bros. seriously considered giving this film a Screen-to-Stage Adaptation. Instead, their theatrical division became a co-producer of the 2013 stage musical.
The 2013 Stage Musical
- Actor-Inspired Element: Willy Wonka's elegant Staff of Authority having the bendy properties of a bamboo cane (think Charlie Chaplin) was role originator Douglas Hodge's idea; he'd been rehearsing with a bamboo cane and grew used to its feel and the tricks, stances, etc. this allowed him. (See What Could Have Been below for how his input affected other aspects of the show.)
- Deleted Scene / Orphaned Reference: The "Creation Overture" animated prologue was dropped in 2014 upon the first major cast turnover for reasons unknown, though pacing and/or not wanting to rerecord the narrationnote may have been factors. This cut resulted in the loss of the Meaningful Echo of the phrase "just a bean" in "It Must Be Believed to Be Seen".
- Development Hell: The initial plan for a Broadway transfer to launch in the 2014-15 season has already been scrapped, partially due to Sam Mendes being busy with other projects. It also may need to wait on a theatre big enough to accommodate its huge physical production becoming available. (As of October 2014, composer/co-lyricist Marc Shaiman has stated that a transfer is still in the cards, and the script is getting revisions to boot — perhaps as a response to the mediocre reviews it received from American critics who saw it in the West End?)
- Executive Meddling: This is the reason "Pure Imagination" from the 1971 film is included with what is otherwise a completely new score. Sam Mendes wasn't too happy about this, since he wanted the show to stand on its own merits, but since audiences and critics love its placement as The Eleven O'Clock Number — and it ties in to the Central Theme perfectly — this is arguably a case of Tropes Are Not Bad.
- What Could Have Been:
- As discussed in this article, director Sam Mendes first tried to get the stage rights to the novel in the late 1980s. He tried again at the Turn of the Millennium, but the rights were with Warner Bros. by then, and they were busy with what became the 2005 film. Once that was out of the way, the go-ahead was given for a new stage adaptation in 2007. From there...
- The show went through fifty drafts! (Amazingly, the first song written, "Almost Nearly Perfect", managed to survive the whole way.)
- Before going with the conceit of adult actors in trick costumes (ala how Lord Farquaad was handled in the stage version of Shrek) to play the Oompa-Loompas, the creators considered either using puppets or casting children in the roles.
- According to Douglas Hodge, "It Must Be Believed to Be Seen" was almost a Cut Song, as the songwriters came up with a far more bombastic number to take its place. That song made it to the readthrough stage, but Hodge wasn't happy with it and wanted something cheekier...so the writers, who felt much the same way by that point, played "It Must Be Believed to Be Seen" for him, and with further tweaking, the song was back in the show. Part of the tweaking involved Mr. Wonka's entrance — Hodge, who had read the book but not yet seen the 1971 movie adaptation, wanted to fake a fall as he came down the steps. Once he understood that it was too similar to the '71 film, the Internal Homage variant involving an Instant Costume Change instead of a tumble emerged.
- Speaking of Hodge, he found himself choosing between playing Willy Wonka or the title character in the Cameron Mackintosh-produced revival of Barnum at Chichester Festival Theatre — not an easy decision, as he had not only expressed interest in the long-in-the-works Barnum but the two roles have many similarities. He chose Charlie and the Chocolate Factory because he'd never had the chance to take part in the creative process of staging a new musical before (of his previous roles in stage musicals, 1983's Bashville came very early in his career, and all the others were revivals).
- Initially the show was set to premiere at the London Palladium, but when the West End production of Shrek The Musical announced its closing notice, leaving the similarly massive Theatre Royal Drury Lane free, plans were changed.
- The Great Glass Elevator setpiece was so hard to perfect that not only were the earliest preview performances cancelled outright, but an alternative version of the "Pure Imagination" sequence was created in which the elevator is explicitly described as invisible (the actors miming its walls).
- The chocolate river and the boat ride down it couldn't be convincingly realized on stage without killing the show's pacing (via time-consuming switching in and out of setpieces), hence the simpler waterfall setpiece in the Chocolate Room and a different journey-by-boat for the transition from the Nut Room to the Department of the Future.
- The final stretch of "Juicy!" features roller-skating Oompa-Loompas; originally Willy Wonka was going to skate too, but Douglas Hodge never got the hang of it and concerns for his safety led to that bit of business getting cut.