Report: Netflix Nears Deal to Buy Roald Dahl Properties: Willy Wonka, Matilda, James and the Giant Peach
Netflix may soon be the exclusive home to stories inspired by British author Roald Dahl. Netflix previously had a three-year-old agreement with the Roald Dahl Story Co. to make animated shows based on his stories. Now it’s buying the whole business.
Bloomberg reports a deal could be announced within days. This would give Netflix ownership of properties like “Matilda,” “James and the Giant Peach,” and “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.” The previous three-year deal was estimated between $500 million to $1 billion, so this acquisition could blow that out of the water.
No company has been more aggressive in its acquisitions than Disney. The House of Mouse scooped up Pixar ($7.9 billion) The Muppets (terms unknown), Star Wars (for $4 billion), and Marvel ($4.2 billion). It tilted the entire entertainment world on its axis with the $71.3 billion buyout of 20th Century Fox. By those measures, this move from Netflix seems almost trivial.
But in an increasingly fractured media landscape, using existing media properties is a surefire way to grab an audience’s attention. After all, Amazon Prime Video is spending $465 million for just one season of its upcoming Lord of the Rings series. There are simply fewer titles available for streaming services to grab these days.
There’s also the question of who these services are trying to court with such acquisitions. While Dahl’s books are aimed at kids, a child born in the 2020s would likely gravitate more toward CoComelon than a reimagining of a book from 1964.
Dahl’s stories haven’t always been surefire hits. Even Steven Spielberg misfired with “The BFG,” which earned $195 million on a budget of $140 million. But based on Netflix’s existing three-year deal, the company must have seen enough value to merit the full purchase.