Wonka: release date, cast, plot, trailers, and all we know

Timothée Chalamet as Willy Wonka during one of Wonka's musical numbers
Wonka's hitting theaters very soon. (Image credit: Warner Bros. Pictures)

Wonka is a highly anticipated new film that will focus on a young Willy Wonka set well before the events of Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. The film is directed by Paul King and written by both King and Simon Farnaby (of Paddington fame!)

This will be the first time we've seen Willy Wonka on-screen since Johnny Depp played him in the 2005 film, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Before that, Gene Wilder took on the role in 1971. Unlike the two previous efforts, Wonka's newest adventure is an all-singing, all-dancing musical caper that sees him showing off his chocolate-making talents for the very first time. Here's everything you need to know about Wonka right now...

Wonka release date

Wonka is scheduled to hit US movie theaters on Friday, December 15. UK fans will get to lay eyes on the film a few days earlier, as it's coming to UK cinemas on Friday, December 8. 

Check out our new movies 2023 guide for movies coming out in 2023.

Wonka first impressions and reviews

Timothée Chalamet in his red coat as Willy Wonka in Wonka

Wonka has garnered plenty of high praise so far! (Image credit: Warner Bros. Pictures)

Reactions to Wonka have been pretty positive, so far! As of our latest update, the film has an 80% critics' rating on Rotten Tomatoes, which is indicative of mostly favorable reviews. 

Total Film's Kevin Harley rated the film 4/5 and called Wonka a 'flawed but fulsomely crowd-pleasing musical fantasy' that was 'every inch a 'Paul King confection'. 

Writing for The Guardian, Peter Bradshaw gave Wonka a five-star review, calling it both 'spectacular, imaginative, sweet-natured and funny' and 'an absolute Christmas treat'.

And IGN's Tom Jorgensen rated the movie a 7/10. He praised Chalamet's performance as the chocolatier and the 'charming and well-staged musical numbers'.

What is the plot of Wonka?

Wonka is a musical prequel to the Roald Dahl novel, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. The movie charts Wonka's early days as a chocolatier, wherein he heads to Paris to prove he's the real king of confectionery, ruffling the feathers of some rival chocolate makers in the process. 

The official synopsis for Wonka reads: "An origin story that explores the vivid, mythical beginnings of the imaginative young inventor before he becomes the renowned scrumdiddlyumptious Mozart of chocolate."

According to Deadline: "Wonka will mark the first time Chalamet gets to show off his singing and dancing skills with several musical numbers set to appear in the film. He’s been the top choice for some time but scheduling was a hurdle that had to be overcome as training for those numbers is included in the prep for this film."

Mathew Baynton, Matt Lucas, Keegan Michael-Key and Paterson Joseph (L-R) in Wonka

Wonka's rivals, Fickelgruber (Mathew Baynton), Prodnose (Matt Lucas) and Slugworth (Paterson Joseph). (Image credit: Warner Bros. Pictures)

Who's in the cast?

Timothée Chalamet (Call Me By Your Name) has been cast in the lead role of Wonka, where he's playing a younger version of the famous chocolatier.

This will also be the first film to feature Timothée Chalamet singing and dancing, with musical numbers written by The Divine Comedy's Neil Hannon. Timothée's most recent role saw him as the lead of Dune, directed by Denis Villeneuve (he's returning as Paul Atreides in Dune: Part Two in 2024).

Further casting includes Keegan-Michael Key as the Chief of Police, Sally Hawkins as Wonka's mother, plus Rowan Atkinson, Olivia Colman, Boat Story's Paterson Joseph, Ghosts star Mathew Baynton, and Jim Carter. And of course, we can't forget Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves star Hugh Grant as an Oompa Loompa!

Reporting from Cinema Con, Germain Lussier said: "Extended trailer for Wonka too. Shows him originating all of his special chocolates against the will of an evil chocolate cartel. Ends with HUGH GRANT as an Oompa Loompa, the first one Willy meets. He sings for him. Looks very joyous and bright and fun."

Is there a trailer yet?

We've been treated to two Wonka trailers. The first set the stage for a whimsical adventure perfect for the festive season:

The second trailer began with Wonka's first encounter with Hugh Grant's Oompa Loompa and showed us some people sampling his delectable sweet treats. Of course, it also showed just how unwelcome his arrival in town had been, and how his would-be rivals would like him kicked out of town. Check it out below:

Lucy Buglass
Senior Staff Writer

Lucy joined the WhatToWatch.com team in 2021, where she writes series guides for must-watch programmes, reviews and the latest TV news. Now she works for our sister site TechRadar in the same role. Originally from Northumberland, she graduated from Oxford Brookes University with a degree in Film Studies and moved to London to begin a career writing about entertainment.

She is a Rotten Tomatoes approved film critic and has a huge passion for cinema. She especially loves horror, thriller and anything crime-related. Her favourite TV programmes include Inside No 9, American Horror Story, Stranger Things and Black Mirror but she is also partial to a quiz show or a bit of Say Yes to the Dress

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