In search of a golden ticket, Netflix buys the Roald Dahl characters

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Netflix spent more than $600 million to buy the Roald Dahl catalog, which includes the stories “Matilda,” “The BFG” and “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.” Photo by Netflix

Netflix has franchise-envy. Disney’s got Marvel and “Star Wars,” and Warner Bros. has DC Comics. Now Netflix is on the hunt for intellectual property it can turn into movies, TV shows and even video games. 

That’s the thinking behind the $686 million deal for the streamer to buy the rights to all the Roald Dahl stories. Characters from “James and the Giant Peach,” “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” “The Witches” and “Matilda” may one day appear in Netflix series. Matt Belloni says, “Get ready for the Oompa Loompa Universe.”

That proposition is not an exciting one to Guardian columnist Stuart Heritage. He imagines, “​​A universe where the BFG and Willy Wonka team up to take down the Twits. A universe where George’s Marvellous Medicine is genetically fused to James’ giant peach so that Fantastic Mr. Fox can squash the Witches. It sounds like a nightmare.”

But Netflix hopes its Dahl projects will one day have plenty of fans. The streamer is leaning into fan service and holding an online event called Tudum where attendees can see clips from upcoming Netflix series including “Stranger Things” and “Bridgerton.” This event resembles other fan conventions held by studios over the years. 

While the Dahl deal gives Netflix access to tons of material, it does not give them the rights to previous movies that have been made based on Dahl books, including “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” and “The Witches,” both of which have had remakes as well. 

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