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Netflix acquires rights to Roald Dahl’s children’s books

Roald Dahl (Rebecca Naden)
Roald Dahl (Rebecca Naden)

Netflix has bought the rights to Roald Dahl’s entire catalogue of children’s books in a landmark deal.

The streaming giant’s acquisition of the Roald Dahl Story Company (RDSC) will allow it to create a “unique universe” with the author’s classic characters, such as Matilda, the BFG and the Twits.

The deal is set to produce films, TV series, spin-off games, immersive experiences and theatre shows.

Netflix began a partnership with the RDSC in 2018 to create a slate of animated TV series, with approximately one billion dollars (£733 million) in production spend planned.

This deal included a series based on the world of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, currently being created by Oscar-winning filmmaker Taika Waititi and Oscar-nominee Phil Johnston, and Sony and production company Working Title are adapting Matilda The Musical.

In a joint statement, Netflix’s co-chief executive and chief content officer Ted Sarandos and managing director of RDSC and Dahl’s grandson, Luke Kelly, said they were “joining forces to bring some of the world’s most loved stories to current and future fans in creative new ways”.

They added: “As we bring these timeless tales to more audiences in new formats, we’re committed to maintaining their unique spirit and their universal themes of surprise and kindness, while also sprinkling some fresh magic into the mix.”

Roald Dahl Day 2017
Dahl’s books have been translated into 63 languages (Anthony Upton/PA)

Kelly also said in a letter to their stakeholders: “Our mission at the Roald Dahl Story Company is to share the stories’ messages of hope and of the power and the possibility of young people.

“We believe being part of a larger company will give us the additional support to continue in that mission.

“There is so much more to do with these beloved stories and their positive messages.

“We currently have plans in place for 19 TV shows, films, stage shows and live experiences, and with Netflix’s support we will be able to reach even more young people and families around the world.”

Roald Dahl
Netflix plan to create a ‘unique universe’ with the author’s classic characters (PA)

Kelly said that during the RDSC’s partnership with Nexflix, he has come to know it as a company that “drives for creative excellence” and one that has a “deep love for Dahl’s stories”.

He added: “We know that they will work closely with us to safeguard, nurture, and grow these stories and guard their unique spirit in the coming years.

“We simply could not think of a better partner to support our mission.”

The financial worth of the deal has not been disclosed, but RDSC said it will use a “significant part” of the proceeds from the sale to set up a charitable trust to support existing and new charity partners tackling children’s health, anti-hate and anti-racism.

The RDSC confirmed its team will remain an “autonomous unit” within Netflix.

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