Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory is a 1971 American musical fantasy film directed by Mel Stuart, and starring Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka. Let’s see some amazing facts and trivia about it!
1.It is an adaptation of the 1964 novel Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl and 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.
2. The idea for adapting the book into a film came about when director Mel Stuart’s ten-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.
3. 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).
4. 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.
5. It was agreed that the film would be a children’s musical, and that Dahl himself would write the screenplay. However, the title was changed to Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.
6. At the time of release, the Vietnam War was at its height and American soldiers referred to both Viet Cong and North Vietnamese forces as “Charlie.”
7. Studio executives feared that a public who came home each day to see the war on television might be less interested in going out to see the film if they used the original title.
8. 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.
9. Seltzer also worked Slugworth (only mentioned as a rival candy maker in the book) into the plot as an actual character (only to be revealed to be Wilkinson, one of Wonka’s agents, at the end of the film).
10. All six members of Monty Python: Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Eric Idle, Terry Gilliam, Terry Jones and Michael Palin, expressed interest in playing Wonka, but at the time they were deemed not big enough names for an international audience.
11. Three of the members, Cleese, Idle and Palin, were later seriously considered for the same role in Tim Burton’s version.
12. Before Gene Wilder was officially cast for the role, Fred Astaire, Joel Grey, Ron Moody and Jon Pertwee were all considered.
13. Spike Milligan was Roald Dahl’s original choice to play Willy Wonka.
14. Peter Sellers even begged Dahl for the role.
15. Jean Stapleton turned down the role of Mrs. Teevee.
16. Jim Backus was considered for the role of Sam Beauregarde.
17. Sammy Davis, Jr. wanted to play Bill, the candy store owner, but Stuart did not like the idea because he felt that the presence of a big star in the candy store scene would break the reality.
18. Anthony Newley also wanted to play Bill, but Stuart also objected to this for the same reason.
19. Principal photography commenced on 30 April 1970, and ended on 19 November 1970.
20. The primary shooting location was Munich, Bavaria, West Germany, because it was significantly cheaper than filming in the United States and the setting was conducive to Wonka’s factory; Stuart also liked the ambiguity and unfamiliarity of the location.
21. 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.
22. 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.’
23. Before its release, the film received advance publicity though TV commercials offering a “Willy Wonka candy factory kit” for sending $1.00 and two seals from boxes of Quaker cereals such as King Vitaman, Life and any of the Cap’n Crunch brands.
24. Willy Wonka was released on 30 June 1971. The film was not a big success, being the fifty-third highest-grossing film of the year in the U.S., earning just over $2.1 million on its opening weekend, although it received positive reviews from critics such as Roger Ebert, who compared it to The Wizard of Oz.
25. 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.
26. Warner’s ownership of the film helped them get the rights to make a new version in 2005, named Charlie and the Chocolate Factory after the original book, as well as a stage musical adaptation that had its premiere in London in 2013.
27. 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”.
28. Willy Wonka was ranked No. 74 on Bravo’s 100 Scariest Movie Moments for the “scary tunnel” scene.
29. 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 casting of Gene Wilder instead of Spike Milligan.
30. He was also “infuriated” by the deviations in the plot Seltzer devised in his draft of the screenplay, including the conversion of Slugworth, a minor character in the book, into a spy (so that the movie could have a villain) and the “fizzy lifting drinks” scene
31. The Academy Award-nominated original score and songs were composed by Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley, and musical direction was by Walter Scharf.
32. The soundtrack was first released by Paramount Records in 1971.
33. On 8 October 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”