Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory

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For the 2005 film adaptation, see Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (film).
Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory
Original theatrical release poster
Directed by Mel Stuart
Produced by
Screenplay by
Based on Charlie and the Chocolate Factory 
by Roald Dahl
Music by
Cinematography Arthur Ibbetson
Edited by David Saxon
Wolper Productions
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release dates
  • June 30, 1971 (1971-06-30)
Running time 100 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $3 million
Box office $4 million

Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory is a 1971 British-American musical fantasy film[1] directed by Mel Stuart, and starring Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka. The film—a film adaptation of the 1964 novel Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl—tells the story of Charlie Bucket (Peter Ostrum, in his only film appearance) as he receives a Golden Ticket and visits Willy Wonka's chocolate factory with four other children from around the world.

Filming took place in Munich in 1970, and the film was released by Paramount Pictures on June 30, 1971. It received positive reviews, but performed poorly at the box office, grossing only $1 million. However, the film has since developed a cult following especially due to its repeated television airings and home entertainment sales. In 1972, the film received an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Score, and Wilder was nominated for the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy, but lost both to Fiddler on the Roof.


After school, children go to a local candy shop, where the owner Bill serves chocolate to them. Charlie Bucket, saddened that he has no money, stares through the window as the owner sings "Candy Man". The newsagent Mr. Jopeck, for whom Charlie works after school, gives him his weekly pay, which Charlie uses to buy a loaf of bread. On his way, he passes legendary candy maker Willy Wonka's chocolate factory. A mysterious tinker recites the first lines of William Allingham's poem "The Fairies" and tells Charlie (referring to the factory) "Nobody ever goes in, and nobody ever comes out". He brings the bread back to his widowed mother, Grandpa Joe, and his other three bedridden grandparents. That night, he tells Grandpa about the tinker and what he said, and Grandpa Joe tells him that Mr. Wonka once had to lock the factory because Mr. Slugworth (who is Wonka's main arch rival) and a few other candy company makers had sent spies disguised as Wonka's employees to get the secret recipes from Wonka. Wonka closed the factory and disappeared, but three years later went back into business and began selling more candies to candy stores all over the world. Despite this, Wonka kept the factory locked to prevent Slugworth and the other companies from obtaining Wonka's secret recipes, so that just who is helping Wonka run the factory remains a big mystery.

One day, the family, along with the rest of the world, learns that Wonka has hidden five Golden Tickets in his Wonka Bars. The finders of these special tickets will be given a full tour of his factory, as well as a lifetime supply of chocolate to the "winner". Charlie wants to take part in the search, but can't afford to buy vast quantities of chocolate bars like other participants. Four of the tickets are found respectively in order by: Augustus Gloop, a gluttonous German boy; Veruca Salt, a spoiled English girl; Violet Beauregarde, a gum-chewing American girl; and Mike Teevee, a television-obsessed American boy. As they find their tickets, a sinister-looking man is observed whispering in their ears, to whom they listen attentively despite their preoccupations with their particular obsessions. Charlie's hopes are dashed when news breaks that the final ticket had been found by a Paraguayan millionaire.

The next day, as the Golden Ticket craze ends which the millionaire reveals as a fraud, Charlie finds some money in a gutter and uses it to buy a Wonka Bar. Since he still has some change left after eating the chocolate, he uses it to buy another Wonka bar, which he intends to bring home. On leaving the candy store, he learns from people talking that the ticket found by the millionaire was a forgery and that one ticket is still about somewhere. When Charlie opens the bar, he finds the real golden ticket and races home to tell his family, but is confronted by the same man who had been seen whispering to the other four winners. The man introduces himself as Slugworth, He offers to pay Charlie a large sum of money for a sample of Wonka's latest creation, the Everlasting Gobstopper.

Grandpa Joe practically leaps out of bed to serve as Charlie's tour chaperone and Charlie tells him about his meeting with Slugworth. The next day, Wonka greets the children and their guardians at the factory gates and leads them inside, requiring each to sign a contract before the tour can begin. Inside is a psychedelic wonderland full of chocolate river, giant edible mushrooms, lickable wallpaper, and other ingenious inventions and candies, as well as Wonka's workers, the small, orange-skinned, green-haired Oompa-Loompas.

As the tour progresses, Augustus ignores Wonka's warnings, resulting in him being sucked through a chocolate extraction pipe system and sent to the Fudge Room after falling into a chocolate river from which he was trying to drink; While in Wonka's Inventing Room, the remaining children are each given a sample of Wonka's Everlasting Gobstoppers, Violet inflates into a giant blueberry after trying an experimental piece of Three-Course-Dinner Gum. Veruca is rejected as a "bad egg" and falls down a garbage chute in the Chocolate Golden Egg Sorting Room; and Mike is shrunk to only a few inches in height after being transmitted by "Wonkavision", a broadcasting technology that can send objects through television instead of pictures. The Oompa-Loompas sing a song after each incident, describing that particular child's poor behavior.

During the tour, Charlie and Grandpa Joe also succumb to temptation: they stay behind in the Bubble Room and secretly sample Fizzy Lifting Drinks. They begin floating skyward and are nearly sucked into a ceiling-mounted exhaust fan. To avoid this grisly fate, they burp repeatedly until they return to the ground. Wonka initially seems unaware of this incident, but when Charlie becomes the last remaining child on the tour, Wonka dismisses him and Grandpa Joe and leaves for his office. Grandpa Joe follows Wonka to ask about Charlie's lifetime supply of chocolate. Wonka angrily reveals that Charlie has violated the contract by stealing Fizzy Lifting Drinks and therefore receives nothing. Wonka dismisses them. Grandpa Joe suggests that Charlie give Slugworth the gobstopper in revenge; however, Charlie places the gobstopper on Wonka's desk.

Wonka apologizes and reveals that "Slugworth" was an employee, named Mr. Wilkinson. The offer to buy the gobstopper was part of a morality test for the Golden Ticket winners, and Charlie was the only one who passed. The trio enter the "Wonkavator", a multi-dimensional glass elevator which flies out of the factory. As they soar over the city, Wonka tells Charlie that his prize isn't just the chocolate but the factory itself; the Golden Ticket search was created to help Wonka find an honest child worthy to be his heir. Charlie and his family will live in the factory, and take over its operation when Wonka retires.




The idea for adapting the book into a film came about when director Mel Stuart's 10-year-old daughter read the book and asked her father to make a film out of it, with "Uncle Dave" (producer David L. Wolper) producing it. Stuart showed the book to Wolper, who happened to be in the midst of talks with the Quaker Oats Company regarding a vehicle to introduce a new candy bar from their Chicago-based Breaker Confections subsidiary (since renamed the Willy Wonka Candy Company and sold to Nestlé). Wolper persuaded the company, who had no previous experience in the film industry, to buy the rights to the book and finance the picture for the purpose of promoting a new Quaker Oats Wonka Bar.[2]

It was agreed that the film would be a children's musical, and that Dahl himself would write the screenplay.[2] However, the title was changed to Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory in order to promote the aforementioned candy tie-in. Screenwriter David Seltzer conceived a gimmick exclusively for the film that had Wonka quoting numerous literary sources, such as Arthur O'Shaughnessy's Ode, Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest, Samuel Taylor Coleridge's The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, and William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice. Seltzer also worked Slugworth (only mentioned as a rival candy maker in the book) into the plot as an actual character.[2]

Dahl, who had rights to the film production, unsuccessfully pushed for Spike Milligan to play Willy Wonka. His next choice, Ron Moody, rejected the part. Jon Pertwee also turned down the role due to ongoing commitments to Doctor Who. All six members of Monty Python (Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Eric Idle, Terry Gilliam, Terry Jones, and Michael Palin) had all expressed great interest in playing the role, but they were deemed not big enough names for an international audience. Milligan's Goon Show costar Peter Sellers was considered for the role. Also initially considered was Broadway star Joel Grey, who ultimately was rejected due to his small physical stature. Auditions were held for a week in New York City's Plaza Hotel, where Gene Wilder was immediately awarded the role. Wilder said that he would do the film only if Wonka first appeared onscreen coming out of the factory hobbling with a cane, only to then lose it and do a somersault, establishing Wonka as a trickster. Further auditions were held in New York, London, and Munich to fill the parts of the other children and their parents.


Filming commenced on April 30, 1970, and ended on November 19, 1970. The primary shooting location was Munich, Bavaria, West Germany, because it was significantly cheaper than filming in the U.S. and the setting was conducive to Wonka's factory; Stuart also liked the ambiguity and unfamiliarity of the location. External shots of the factory were filmed at the gasworks of Stadtwerke München (Emmy-Noether-Straße 10); the entrance and side buildings still exist. The closing sequence when the Wonkavator is flying above the factory is footage of Nördlingen in Bavaria.

Production designer Harper Goff centered the factory on the massive Chocolate Room. According to Paris Themmen, who played Mike Teevee, "The river was made of water with food coloring. At one point, they poured some cocoa powder into it to try to thicken it but it didn't really work. When asked this question, Michael Böllner, who played Augustus Gloop, answers, "It vas dirty, stinking vater.""[3]

When interviewed for the 30th anniversary special edition, Gene Wilder stated that he enjoyed working with most of the child actors, but said that he and the crew had some problems with Paris Themmen (who played Mike Teevee), mentioning that he was "a handful" back in the day.[4]


Willy Wonka was released on June 30, 1971, and was the fifty-third highest grossing film of the year in the U.S., earning approximately $4 million (on a $3 million budget).[5] The film received positive reviews from critics such as Roger Ebert.[6]

Seeing no significant financial advantage, Paramount Pictures decided against renewing its distribution deal for the film when it expired seven years later. Warner Communications had acquired Wolper Productions earlier, and Quaker Oats sold its share of the rights to Warner Bros. for $500,000 in 1977. WB's ownership of the film helped them get the rights to make a new film adaptation that was released in 2005, as well as a stage musical adaptation that had its premiere in London in 2013. The film currently holds an 89% 'Fresh' rating on Rotten Tomatoes with the critical consensus stating "Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory is strange yet comforting, full of narrative detours that don't always work but express the film's uniqueness".[7]

By the mid-1980s, Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory had experienced a spike in popularity thanks in large part to repeated television broadcasts and home video sales. Following a 25th anniversary theatrical re-release in 1996, it was released on DVD the next year, allowing it to reach a new generation of viewers. The film was released as a remastered special edition on DVD and VHS in 2001 to commemorate the film's 30th anniversary. In 2003, Entertainment Weekly ranked it 25th in the "Top 50 Cult Movies" of all time.

Willy Wonka was ranked #74 on Bravo's 100 Scariest Movie Moments[8] for the "scary tunnel" scene.

American Film Institute Lists

Dahl's reaction[edit]

Roald Dahl disowned the film, the script of which was partially rewritten by David Seltzer after Dahl failed to meet deadlines. Dahl said he was "disappointed" because "he thought it placed too much emphasis on Willy Wonka and not enough on Charlie," as well as the non-casting of Milligan.[14] He was also "infuriated" by the deviations in the plot Seltzer devised in his draft of the screenplay, including the conversion of Slugworth into a spy and the "fizzy lifting drinks" scene.[14]

Home media[edit]

The film was first released on DVD in 1997 as the "25th anniversary edition"[15] as a double sided disc containing a widescreen and "standard" version. The "standard" version is an open matte print, where the mattes used to make the image widescreen are removed, revealing information originally intended to be hidden from viewers.[16] VHS copies were also available, but only containing the "standard" version.

A special edition DVD was released in 2001, celebrating the film's 30th anniversary, although only full-screen, on August 28, 2001. Due to the lack of a letterboxed release, fan petitioning eventually led Warner Home Video to issue a widescreen version on November 13, 2001. It was also released on VHS, with only one of the special features (a making-of feature). Several original cast members reunited to film documentary footage for this special edition DVD release. The two editions featured restored sound, and better picture quality. In addition to the documentary, the DVD included a trailer, a gallery, and audio commentary by the cast.

In 2006, Warner Home Video released the film on HD DVD with all the bonus features from the 2001 DVD.[17] The film was released on Blu-ray on October 20, 2009.[18] It includes all the bonus features from the 2001 DVD and 2006 HD-DVD as well as a 38-page book.

In 2011, a new 40th-anniversary Blu-ray/DVD set was released on November 1, consisting of the film on Blu-ray Disc and DVD as well as a bonus features disc. The set also included a variety of rarities such as a Wonka Bar-designed tin, four scented pencils, a scented eraser, a book detailing the making of the film, original production papers and a Golden Ticket to win a trip to Los Angeles.[19]


The Academy Award-nominated original score and songs were composed by Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley, and musical direction was by Walter Scharf. The soundtrack was first released by Paramount Records in 1971. On October 8, 1996, Hip-O Records (in conjunction with MCA Records, which by then owned the Paramount catalog), released the soundtrack on CD as a "25th Anniversary Edition".

The music and songs in the order that they appear in the film are:

  1. "Main Title" – Instrumental medley of "(I've Got A) Golden Ticket" and "Pure Imagination"
  2. "The Candy Man Can" – Aubrey Woods
  3. "Cheer Up, Charlie" – Diana Lee (dubbing over Diana Sowle)
  4. "(I've Got A) Golden Ticket" – Jack Albertson and Peter Ostrum
  5. "Pure Imagination" – Gene Wilder
  6. "Oompa Loompa (Augustus)" – The Oompa Loompas
  7. "The Wondrous Boat Ride"/"The Rowing Song" – Gene Wilder
  8. "Oompa Loompa (Violet)" – The Oompa Loompas
  9. "I Want It Now!" – Julie Dawn Cole
  10. "Oompa Loompa (Veruca)" – The Oompa Loompas
  11. "Ach, so fromm" (alternately titled "M'appari", from Martha) – Gene Wilder
  12. "Oompa Loompa (Mike)" – The Oompa Loompas
  13. "End Credits" – "Pure Imagination"


The track listing for the soundtrack is as follows:

  1. "Main Title" ("Golden Ticket"/"Pure Imagination")
  2. "The Candy Man"
  3. "Charlie's Paper Run"
  4. "Cheer Up Charlie"
  5. "Lucky Charlie"
  6. "(I've Got A) Golden Ticket"
  7. "Pure Imagination"
  8. "Oompa Loompa"
  9. "The Wondrous Boat Ride"
  10. "Everlasting Gobstoppers/Oompa Loompa"
  11. "The Bubble Machine"
  12. "I Want It Now/Oompa Loompa"
  13. "Wonkamobile, Wonkavision/Oompa Loompa"
  14. "Wonkavator/End Title" ("Pure Imagination")


Further reading

External links[edit]