Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (film)

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Theatrical release poster
Directed by Tim Burton
Produced by
Screenplay by John August
Based on Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
Narrated by Geoffrey Holder
Music by Danny Elfman
Cinematography Philippe Rousselot
Editing by Chris Lebenzon
Distributed by Warner Bros.
Release date(s) July 15, 2005 (2005-07-15) (United States)
July 29, 2005 (2005-07-29) (United Kingdom)
Running time 115 minutes
Country United Kingdom
United States
Language English
Budget $150 million[1]
Box office $474.9 million[2]

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is a 2005 film adaptation of the 1964 book of the same name by Roald Dahl. The film was directed by Tim Burton. The film stars Freddie Highmore as Charlie Bucket and Johnny Depp as Willy Wonka. The storyline concerns Charlie, who takes a tour he has won, through the most magnificent chocolate factory in the world, led by Wonka.

Development for another adaptation of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory began in 1991, which resulted in Warner Bros. providing the Dahl Estate with total artistic control. Prior to Burton's involvement, directors such as Gary Ross, Rob Minkoff, Martin Scorsese and Tom Shadyac had been involved, while Warner Bros. either considered or discussed the role of Willy Wonka with Nicolas Cage, Jim Carrey, Michael Keaton, Brad Pitt, Will Smith and Adam Sandler.

Burton immediately brought regular collaborators Johnny Depp and Danny Elfman aboard. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory represents the first time since The Nightmare Before Christmas that Elfman contributed to the film score using written songs and his vocals. Filming took place from June to December 2004 at Pinewood Studios in England, where Burton avoided using digital effects as much as possible. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was released to critical praise and was a box office success, grossing approximately $475 million worldwide.



Charlie Bucket is a kind, loving boy who lives in poverty with his mother, father, and four bedridden grandparents. Directly across the street from their house is a world-famous chocolate factory, the owner of which, Willy Wonka, has long since closed access to the factory due to problems concerning industrial espionage that ultimately led him to fire all his employees, among them Charlie's Grandpa Joe. One day, Wonka announces a contest in which five Golden Tickets have been placed in five random Wonka Bars worldwide, and the winners will be given a full tour of the factory, as well as a lifetime supply of chocolate. One ticket-holder will be given a special prize at the end of the tour.

The first four tickets are found by Augustus Gloop, a greedy, gluttonous eater from Düsseldorf; Veruca Salt, a spoiled girl from Buckinghamshire; Violet Beauregarde, a boastful, competitive gum chewer from Atlanta; and Mike Teavee, an arrogant, aggressive video-game addict from Denver. Two of Charlie's attempts to find a ticket end in failure. With one ticket remaining, and his father laid off from his job at a toothpaste factory, replaced by a robot, Charlie finds a ten pound note on the street and buys another Wonka Bar with it, which, he finds with joy, contains the last Golden Ticket.

Chaperoned by Grandpa Joe and one of their respective parents, Charlie and the other ticket holders are greeted by Wonka, who leads the group through the facility. During the tour, each of the bad children disobeys Wonka's orders after being tempted by something related to their individual character flaws. They suffer various consequences as a result: Augustus falls into a chocolate river from which he was drinking and is sucked up a chocolate-extraction pipe; Violet chews an experimental gum and swells up into an oversized blueberry; Veruca is pushed into a garbage chute by worker squirrels after trying to take one of them as a pet, and Mike is shrunk by a teleporter that he uses on himself. Each misfortune is accompanied by a song of morality sung by Wonka's employees, the Oompa-Loompas. The children later leave the factory, each with an exaggerated characteristic relating to their demise: Augustus covered in chocolate, Violet being juiced and becoming blue and flexible, Veruca and her father covered in garbage, and Mike being stretched by a taffy puller into a thin shape.

With Charlie the last remaining child on the tour, Wonka offers him the tour's secret prize: a chance to live in the factory and work with him, revealing that the purpose of the contest was to make the least rotten child heir to the factory so he can have someone carry on his legacy when he dies. The only condition, however, is that Charlie must leave his family behind. As detailed by a series of flashbacks throughout the film, Wonka ran away from his own father, a dentist, who fitted him with oppressive orthodontic headgear and forbade him from eating candy. As a result, Wonka believes that Charlie's parents will similarly restrain Charlie's creativity as a candymaker. Charlie refuses Wonka's offer, considering his family the most important thing in his life.

From that moment on, Charlie and his family begin living contently, with his father being rehired at the toothpaste factory to do maintenance on the robot that replaced him, though Wonka becomes depressed. After he returns to Charlie to seek advice, Charlie helps Wonka reunite with his estranged father and repair their relationship. Afterwards, Charlie accepts inheritance of the factory and moves his whole family into the facility, becoming good friends and business partners with Wonka.



Author Roald Dahl hated the 1971 film adaptation and refused the producers the film rights to make the sequel, Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator.[3] Warner Bros. and Brillstein-Grey Entertainment entered discussions with the Dahl estate in 1991, hoping to purchase the rights to make another film adaptation of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. The purchase was finalized in 1998,[4] with Dahl's widow, Liccy, and daughter, Lucy, receiving total artistic control and final privilege on the choices of actors, directors and writers. The Dahl Estate's subsequent protection of the source material was the principal reason that Charlie and the Chocolate Factory languished in development hell since the 1990s.[5][6]

Scott Frank was hired to write the screenplay in February 1999 with the intention of making it closer to the book, in contrast to the 1971 film.[6] Nicolas Cage was under discussions for Willy Wonka, but lost interest.[3][7] Gary Ross signed to direct in February 2000,[8] which resulted into Frank completing two drafts of the screenplay[9] before leaving with Ross in September 2001.[10] Both Warner Bros. and the Dahl Estate wanted Frank to stay on the project, but he faced scheduling conflicts and contractual obligations with Minority Report (2002) and The Lookout (2007).[9]

Rob Minkoff entered negotiations to take the director's position in October 2001,[11] and Gwyn Lurie was hired to start from scratch on a new script in February 2002. "I'm going to work straight from the original book and ignore the original movie," the writer said. Dahl's estate championed Lurie after being impressed with her work on another Dahl adaptation, The BFG, for Paramount Pictures (which distributed the earlier 1971 film version of Charlie..., and later sold the rights to WB).[12] In April 2002, Martin Scorsese was involved with the film, albeit briefly, and opted to direct The Aviator instead.[3][7] Warner Bros. president Alan F. Horn wanted Tom Shadyac to direct Jim Carrey as Willy Wonka, believing the duo could make Charlie and the Chocolate Factory relevant to mainstream audiences, but Liccy Dahl opposed this.[5]

After reaching enthusiastic approval from the Dahl Estate, Warner Bros. hired Tim Burton to direct in May 2003.[4] "It was a bit like the situation on Batman (1989)," Burton reflected. "Warners had the project for a long time, you could see all the different stabs at it. I felt that Scott Frank's version was the best, probably the clearest, and the most interesting, but they had abandoned that."[13] Liccy Dahl commented that Burton was the first and only director the estate was happy with. He had previously produced another of the author's adaptations with James and the Giant Peach (1996), and, like Roald and Liccy, disliked the 1971 film because it strayed from the book's storyline.[5]

"As a child, Dahl was the author who I connected to the most. He got the idea of writing a mixture of light and darkness, and not speaking down to kids, and the kind of politically incorrect humor that kids get. I've always liked that, and it's shaped everything I've felt that I've done."

Tim Burton[13]

During pre-production Burton visited Dahl's former home in the Buckinghamshire village of Great Missenden. Liccy Dahl remembers Burton entering Dahl's famed writing shed and saying, "This is the Buckets' house!" and thinking to herself, "Thank God, somebody gets it." Liccy also showed Burton the original handwritten manuscripts. "They were incredible. Roald Dahl was even more politically incorrect than what ended up in the book. Originally," Burton explained, "he had five other kids; he had a kid named Herpes in it."[13] Burton immediately thought of Johnny Depp for the role of Willy Wonka, who joined the following August for his fourth collaboration with the director.[14]

Lurie's script received a rewrite by Pamela Pettler, who worked with Burton on Corpse Bride, but the director hired Big Fish screenwriter John August in December 2003 to start from scratch.[7] Both August and Burton were fans of the book since their childhoods.[13] August first read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory when he was eight years old, and subsequently sent Dahl a fan letter. He did not see the 1971 film prior to his hiring, which Burton believed would be fundamental in having August stay closer to the book.[15] The writer updated the Mike Teavee character into an obsessive video game player, as compared to the novel, in which he fantasized with violent crime films. The characters Arthur Slugworth and Prodnose were reduced to brief cameo appearances, while Mr. Beauregarde was entirely omitted.[16]

Burton and August also worked together in creating Wilbur Wonka, Willy's domineering dentist father. "You want a little bit of the flavor of why Wonka is the way he is," Burton reasoned. "Otherwise, what is he? He's just a weird guy."[1] The element of an estranged father-son relationship had previously appeared in Big Fish, similarly directed by Burton and written by August. Warner Bros. and the director held differences over the characterizations of Charlie Bucket and Willy Wonka. The studio wanted to entirely delete Mr. Bucket and make Willy Wonka the idyllic father figure Charlie had longed for his entire life. Burton believed that Wonka would not be a good father, finding the character similar to a recluse.[17] "In some ways," Burton protested, "he's more screwed up than the kids." Warner Bros. also wanted Charlie to be a whiz kid, but Burton reasoned that "Charlie should be like 90% of us, kids in school who disappear into the background and keep out of trouble."[13]

Prior to Burton's involvement, Warner Bros. considered or discussed Willy Wonka with Marilyn Manson, Nicolas Cage, Jim Carrey, Michael Keaton,[3] Brad Pitt, Will Smith[1] and Adam Sandler. Pitt's production company, Plan B Entertainment, however, stayed on to co-finance the film with Warners.[5] Johnny Depp was the only actor Burton considered for the role,[13] who signed on without reading the script under the intention of going with a completely different approach than what Gene Wilder did in the 1971 film adaptation.[18] "Regardless of what one thinks of that film," Depp explained, "Gene Wilder's persona, his character, stands out."[5]

Comparisons were drawn between Willy Wonka and Michael Jackson. Burton joked, "Here's the deal. There's a big difference: Michael Jackson likes children, Willy Wonka can't stand them. To me that's a huge difference."[17] Depp explained that the similarities with Jackson never occurred to him. "I say if there was anyone you'd want to compare Wonka to it would be a Howard Hughes, almost. Reclusive, germaphobe, controlling."[19] Burton agreed with the Hughes similarities, and additionally supplied Charles Foster Kane in Citizen Kane as inspiration. "Somebody who was brilliant but then was traumatized and then retreats into their own world."[13] Depp wanted to sport prosthetic makeup for the part and have a long, elongated nose, but Burton believed it would be too outrageous. During production, Gene Wilder, in an interview with The Daily Telegraph, accused the filmmakers of only remaking the 1971 film for the purpose of money. Depp said he was disappointed by Wilder's comment, and reminded that the film was not a remake, but another adaptation of Dahl's 1964 book.[1]

The casting calls for Charlie Bucket, Violet Beauregarde, Veruca Salt, and Mike Teavee took place in the United States and United Kingdom, while Augustus Gloop's casting took place in Germany. "I tried to find kids who had something of the character in them. Mike Teavee was the hardest," Burton explained, "that took the longest, I don't know why."[13] Burton was finding trouble casting Charlie, until Depp, who worked with Freddie Highmore on Finding Neverland, suggested Highmore for the part.[3] Highmore had already read the book before, but decided to read it once more prior to auditioning.[20] "I hadn't seen the original movie before doing Charlie and the Chocolate Factory," the actor explained. "I thought it was better to wait until afterwards because I thought I ought to create my Charlie on my own. I think the original film is good, but I think it's better now because Charlie is kept more pure."[21]



Principal photography for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory started on June 21, 2004[7] at Pinewood Studios in England.[22] Director Tim Burton and composer Danny Elfman found filming somewhat difficult because they were simultaneously working on Corpse Bride.[17] The Wonka Factory exterior was coincidentally constructed on the same backlot Burton had used for Gotham City in Batman (1989).[13] The ceremonial scene required 500 local extras.[5] The Chocolate Room/River setpiece filled Pinewood's 007 Stage. As a consequence of British Equity rules, which state children can only work four and a half hours a day, filming for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory languished for six months and ended in December 2004.[13]


The architecture of the Bucket family home was influenced by Burton's visit to Roald Dahl's writing hut. Like the book, the film has a "timeless" setting and is not set in a specific country. "We've tried not to pinpoint it to any place," production designer Alex McDowell explained. "The cars, in fact, drive down the middle of the road."[5] The town, whose design was shaped by the black and white urban photography of Bill Brandt, Pittsburgh and Northern England, is arranged like a medieval village, with Wonka's estate on top and the Bucket shack below.[5] The filmmakers also used fascist architecture for Wonka's factory exterior, and designed most of the sets on 360° sound stages, similar to cycloramas. Burton biographer Mark Salisbury wrote that Charlie and the Chocolate Factory "melds 1950s and 70s visuals with a futuristic sensibility that seems straight out of a 1960s sense of the future."[13] The "TV Room" was patterned after photographs from 2001: A Space Odyssey, Danger: Diabolik and THX 1138. Danger Diabolik also served as inspiration for the Nut Room and Inventing Room.[13]

Visual effects

Tim Burton avoided using too many digital effects because he wanted the younger actors to feel as if they were working in a realistic environment.[23] As a result, forced perspective techniques, oversized props and scale models were used to avoid computer-generated imagery (CGI).[13] Deep Roy was cast to play the Oompa-Loompas based on his previous collaborations with Burton on Planet of the Apes and Big Fish. The actor was able to play various Oompa-Loompas using split screen photography, digital and front projection effects.[1] "Tim told me that the Oompa-Loompas were strictly programmed, like robots — all they do is work, work, work," Roy commented. "So when it comes time to dance, they're like a regiment; they do the same steps.[24]

A practical method was considered for the scene in which Violet Beauregarde turns blue and swells up into a giant 10-foot blueberry. A suit with an air hose was considered at one point for the beginnings of the swelling scene, before the decision was made to do the entire transformation in CGI. The visual effects house Cinesite was recruited for this assignment. In some shots that were shot of AnnaSophia Robb's head, a facial prosthetic was worn to give the impression that her cheeks had swelled up as well. Because this decision was made late in the film's production, any traces of Violet's blueberry scene were omitted from trailers or promotional material.

Rather than rely on CGI, Burton wanted the 40 squirrels in the Nut Room to be real. The animals were trained every day for 10 weeks before filming commenced. They began their coaching while newborns, fed by bottles to form relationships with human trainers. The squirrels were each taught how to sit upon a little blue bar stool, tap and then open a walnut, and deposit its meat onto a conveyor belt.[5] "Ultimately, the scene was supplemented by CGI and animatronics," Burton said, "but for the close-ups and the main action, they're the real thing."[13] Wonka's Viking boat for the Chocolate River sequence floats down a realistic river filled with 192,000 gallons of faux melted candy. "Having seen the first film, we wanted to make the chocolate river look edible," McDowell says. "In the first film, it's so distasteful." The production first considered a CGI river, but Burton was impressed with the artificial substance when he saw how it clung to the boat's oars. Nine shades of chocolate were tested before Burton settled on the proper hue.[5]


The original music score was written by Danny Elfman, a frequent collaborator with director Tim Burton. Elfman's score is based around three primary themes: a gentle family theme for the Buckets, generally set in upper woodwinds; a mystical, string-driven waltz for Willy Wonka; and a hyper-upbeat factory theme for full orchestra, Elfman's homemade synthesizer samples and the diminutive chanting voices of the Oompa-Loompas.[25]

Elfman also wrote and performed the vocals for four songs, with pitch changes and modulations to represent different singers.[26] The lyrics to the Oompa-Loompa songs are adapted from the original book, and are thus credited to Roald Dahl.[25] Following Burton's suggestion, each song in the score is designed to reflect a different archetype.[26] "Wonka's Welcome Song" is a maddeningly cheerful theme park ditty, "Augustus Gloop" a Bollywood spectacle (per Deep Roy's suggestion),[24] "Violet Beauregarde" is 1970s funk, "Veruca Salt" is 1960s bubblegum pop / psychedelic pop, and "Mike Teavee" is a tribute to late 1970s hard rock (such as Queen) / early 1980s hair bands.[25][26]

The original motion picture soundtrack was released on July 12, 2005 on Warner Home Video Records.



Early in the development of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory in February 2000, Warner Bros. announced their intention of marketing the film[8] with a Broadway theatre musical after release. The studio reiterated their interest in May 2003,[4] however, the idea was postponed by the time filming began in June 2004.[5] The main tie-in for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory focused on The Willy Wonka Candy Company, a division of Nestlé. A small range of Wonka Bars were launched, utilizing their prominence in the film.[27] The release of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory also rekindled public interest in Roald Dahl's 1964 book, where it remained on the New York Times Best Seller list from July 3 to October 23, 2005.[28][29]


Charlie and the Chocolate Factory had its premiere at the Grauman's Chinese Theatre, where money for the Make-a-Wish Foundation was raised.[30] The film was released in the United States on July 15, 2005 in 3,770 theaters, earning $56,178,450 in its opening weekend,[31] the fifth-highest opening weekend gross for 2005 and stayed at #1 for 2 weeks.[32] This also included IMAX theaters.[33] Charlie and the Chocolate Factory eventually grossed $206,459,076 in US totals and $268,509,687 in foreign countries, coming to a worldwide total of $474.97 million. It was the fifty-eighth highest grossing film of all time when released,[31] as well as seventh-highest for the US[32] and eighth-highest worldwide for the year of 2005.[34]

Critical analysis

Based on 205 reviews collected by Rotten Tomatoes, 82% of the critics gave the film positive reviews with a 7.2/10 average score. The consensus reads: "Closer to the source material than 1971's Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is for people who like their Chocolate visually appealing and dark."[35] The film was more balanced from 40 critics in Rotten Tomatoes' "Top Critics" poll, receiving an 83% rating and a 7.1/10 score.[36] By comparison, Metacritic calculated an average score of 72/100 from 40 reviews.[37]

Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly praised Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, writing "Johnny Depp as Willy Wonka may be a stone freak, but he is also one of Burton's classic crackpot conjurers, like Beetlejuice or Ed Wood."[38] Roger Ebert gave an overall positive review and enjoyed the film. He was primarily impressed by Tim Burton's direction of the younger cast members, but was disappointed with Depp's performance: "What was Depp thinking of? In Pirates of the Caribbean he was famously channeling Keith Richards, which may have primed us to look for possible inspirations for this performance." Mick LaSalle from the San Francisco Chronicle found Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Burton's "best work in years. If all the laughs come from Depp, who gives Willy the mannerisms of a classic Hollywood diva, the film's heart comes from Highmore, a gifted young performer whose performance is sincere, deep and unforced in a way that's rare in a child actor."[39] Peter Travers wrote in Rolling Stone magazine that "Depp's deliciously demented take on Willy Wonka demands to be seen. Depp goes deeper to find the bruises on Wonka's secret heart than what Gene Wilder did. Depp and Burton may fly too high on the vapors of pure imagination, but it's hard to not get hooked on something this tasty. And how about that army of Oompa-Loompas, all played by Deep Roy, in musical numbers that appear to have been choreographed by Busby Berkeley on crack."[40]

Ann Hornaday of The Washington Post criticized Depp's acting. "The cumulative effect isn't pretty. Nor is it kooky, funny, eccentric or even mildly interesting. Indeed, throughout his fey, simpering performance, Depp seems to be straining so hard for weirdness that the entire enterprise begins to feel like those excruciating occasions when your parents tried to be hip. Aside from Burton's usual eye-popping direction, the film's strenuous efforts at becoming a camp classic eventually begin to wear thin."[41]


Costume designer Gabriella Pescucci received an Academy Award nomination, but lost to Colleen Atwood on Memoirs of a Geisha.[42] Johnny Depp lost the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy to Joaquin Phoenix in Walk the Line.[43] More nominations followed from the British Academy Film Awards for Visual Effects, Costume Design (Pescucci), Makeup & Hair (Peter Owen and Ivana Primorac) and Production Design (Alex McDowell).[44] Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was also nominated the Saturn Award for Best Fantasy Film, as well as Performance by a Younger Actor (Freddie Highmore), Music (Danny Elfman) and Costume (Pescucci).[45] Elfman and screenwriter John August were nominated for a Grammy Award with "Wonka's Welcome Song".[46]


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