Netflix is entering its next BFG (buy full goods) phase with an acquisition of the Roald Dahl Story Company and its entire catalog. The deal, first reported on by Bloomberg and confirmed by Netflix overnight in a press statement, will let the streaming service use BFG (books for grabs) such as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and The BFG (Big Friendly Giant) to make animated and live-action feature films, TV series, live theater, immersive productions, games, consumer products, and basically whatever it wants.
This acquisition — which is still subject to regulatory approval — is an expansion of a deal that Netflix made with the Roald Dahl estate in 2018 to adapt many of Dahl’s works into “premium animated event series and specials.” The total production budget for those projects was estimated by the Hollywood Reporter to be between $500 million and $1 billion at the time, so one can only imagine how much BFG (big fat green) is going into this even heftier deal.
Roald Dahl’s legacy as a beloved children’s book author has been tarnished by his also being a BFG (bigoted fucking guy). His novels have been criticized for racist and misogynist elements, and he was openly anti-Semitic, as evidenced by interview excerpts such as: “I’ve become anti-Semitic” and “There is a trait in the Jewish character that does provoke animosity, maybe it’s a kind of lack of generosity towards non-Jews … I mean, there’s always a reason why anti-anything crops up anywhere; even a stinker like Hitler didn’t just pick on them for no reason.”
Sometime in late 2019, Dahl’s family, which has controlled his estate and catalog since his death in 1990, updated the official Dahl website to include an apology for his history of anti-Semitic remarks. Nevertheless, Dahl’s IP must have been considered too much of a BFG (big fucking get) for Netflix, which likely wants to bulk up its family-friendly offerings and create a format-spanning “universe” to compete with entities like Disney.
Productions already in the works include two animated series from Taika Waititi based on the world of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Oompa Loompas, a live-action feature film musical adaptation of Matilda, and a BFG film. Here are some other ideas for how Netflix may gets its money’s worth from this acquisition:
- Girlboss version of The Witches where they sell low-calorie superfood potions.
- A direct-to-consumer razor line inspired by the novel The Twits — about two hairy and ugly (and thus, in Dahl’s universe, horrible) people — which was apparently prompted by the author’s conviction to “do something against beards.”
- A Willy Wonka origin story starring Timothée Chalamet (oh wait, that’s already happening).
- A James and the Giant Peach live-action series set in New York a decade after the conclusion of the novel. James, who is gay and played by Noah Centineo, tries to navigate life and love in the big city while also having to take care of aging giant insects. Think Sex and the City meets Gossip Girl meets Charlotte’s Web.
- Glass elevator (c/o Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator) escape room.
Netflix, if you’re listening, I have more ideas that I will happily fork over in exchange for a BFG (billion fat Gs).