Ted Sarandos

Source: Orlando Parfitt

Ted Sarandos

Netflix has bought the Roald Dahl Story Company (RDSC), the UK firm which holds the rights to the works of the celebrated novelist, in what it is understood to be the US streamer’s biggest acquisition of a company to date. 

The company has plans for “the creation of a unique universe”, which will include animated and live-action films and TV, as well as publishing, games, immersive experiences, live theatre and consumer products. RDSC will retain its staff and operate as what it calls “an autonomous unit within Netflix”.

The acquisition marks the latest stage in a three-year relationship between the two companies. Projects already in the works include a series based on Dahl’s Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, from Taika Waititi and Wreck-It Ralph writer Phil Johnston; plus an adaptation of Matilda The Musical with Sony and Working Title, directed by Pride director Matthew Warchus and starring Emma Thompson, Stephen Graham, Andrea Riseborough and Lashana Lynch.

Netflix co-CEO and chief content officer Ted Sarandos conveyed the news via a blog on the streamer’s website. Luke Kelly, managing director of the RDSC and grandson of the writer, also wrote to shareholders about the news.

“Pending completion of the deal, the RDSC team will stay in place, operating as an autonomous unit within Netflix,” the letter stated, nothing RDSC has 19 projects in development across film, TV, stage and live experiences.

“Our mission at the Roald Dahl Story Company is to share the stories’ messages of hope and of the power and the possibility of young people,” continued Kelly. “We believe being part of a larger company will give us the additional support to continue in that mission.”

“A significant part” of the proceeds from the sale will go towards establishing a charitable trust, supporting existing and new charity partners of the RDSC in areas of children’s health, anti-hate and anti-racism.

Previous titles based on Dahl’s work include adaptations of The BFG in 1989 and 2016; of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory in 1971 and 2005; and of Matilda in 1996. Warner Bros is also currently in production on Wonka, a musical feature about the early life of Willy Wonka, which has just begun shooting at Warner Bros. Studios Leavesden, starring Timothée Chalamet and directed by Paul King.