“Everybody could be so lucky to have an experience like this,” Peter Ostrum says and added, “And then to go in a completely, you know, different direction.” Ostrum may have just played Charlie Bucket in “Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory”, but he seems to have the same childlike wonder as his character who went on a wild journey 44 years ago. And the rest of cast, reuniting today, were more than happy to share the same sentiment.
That’s right, it’s been 44 years since “Willa Wonka & the Chocolate Factory” first debuted on the big screen. Based off the popular 1964 novel “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” by author Roald Dahl, this 1971 American musical fantasy film was hardly a success at the time of it’s release. Making just north of $2.1 million in the US on its opening weekend, Dahl himself condemned the film, disowning it for diverting from his original novel’s storyline.
Yet…that didn’t stop this little film from building in popularity over the years. Initially released by Paramount, they sold the distribution rights to Warner Bros. in 1977 and, since then, have distributed the film. Thanks to them, through repeated television broadcasts and home video sales, the film’s post-release success has become almost as mythical as the titular chocolate maker himself, as well as paved the way for another adaptation of the story in 2005, directed by Tim Burton under the book’s original name “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”.
Yet, this older version continues to serve as a classic family film, riddled with pathos, currently holding an 89% on Rotten Tomatoes, and on a number of “Best of” lists. And today, the five actors who played the kids in the story reunited, along with Rusty Goffe, who played the chief Oompa Loompas, commenting, “It’s scary for me, because when we made the movie, they were kids.”
Sadly, not all was “Pure imagination” as actor Michael Bollner, who played the gluttonous Augustus Gloop, revealed the famous chocolate river in the film was just water. None the less, the cast continued to praise the film, along with working with Gene Wilder (Who played the titular character of Willy Wonka) as being a delight. In the end, as noted by actor Paris Themmen (Who played the television addict child Mike TeeVee), “We think of ourselves as a family”, and added, “Maybe a bit of a dysfunctional family, but …”
Hard to believe…44 years since this trailer came out: