'Charlie''s Chocolate Wars: Sweet tooth for cash?
In the upcoming Entertainment Weekly cover story about Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (which hits newsstands on Friday), senior writer Chris Nashawaty notes that Tim Burton’s new film, to be released July 15, is already dividing Wonka fans into two camps. ”A lot of people are huge fans of the  movie and hold it in awe. I wasn’t one of them,” says Burton, who insists his film will be more faithful to the 1964 Roald Dahl novel than the first movie was, even though Dahl himself wrote the screenplay.
The antagonism is mutual; original Wonka Gene Wilder recently said in an interview that Burton’s version ”is all about money. It’s just some people sitting around thinking ‘How can wemake some more money?’ Why else would you remake Willy Wonka?”
Johnny Depp (Willy Wonka v2.0) says he finds Wilder’s remarks ”disappointing.” He tells EW, ”I can understand where he’s coming from, I guess.” Except, that is, for Wilder’s complaint that the new movie is only about money. ”Well, hey, man, where have you been?” Depp says. ”When didn’t they ever doanything for money? Nobody’s ever made a film in the history of cinema wherethey weren’t expecting some return on their dough.” We’ll post more of the article later in the week at EW.com.
Gone unmentioned by both Depp and Wilder is the fact that the original movie was also all about money. As noted in the DVD extras and in director Mel Stuart’s 2002 book Pure Imagination, the 1971 Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory was bankrolled entirely by Quaker Oats as a promotional tie-in to the company’s new line of Wonka-branded candy bars. Though they ended up with a satirical and oddly dark musical that seems more for adults than children, rather than the 100-minute candy infomercial that Quaker probably wanted, the original filmmakers were hardly free from crassly commercial motives.
It’s unfair, of course, to compare the two Wonka actors when we haven’t seen Depp’s performance yet, though you can get a sample of it in the new trailer. Wilder’s performance mixed mirth with mischief and misanthropy, while Depp seems to be channeling offbeat character actor Sam Rockwell while disguised as Vogue editor Anna Wintour.
Who do you think will make the better Wonka? Do you side with one set of filmmakers against the other in this chocolate war, or do you think they should (Hershey’s) Kiss and make up?
addCredit(“Depp: Warner Bros. Pictures”)