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If you happen to be unfamiliar with the author named Roald Dahl, chances are you're familiar with at least one of his works. The brilliant mind behind 34 novels, including Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Matilda, would have been celebrating his 100th birthday on September 13th. Out of the nine film adaptations of his books, let's rank the five best ones.
5. The Witches (1990)
Based on the book with the same name published in 1983, The Witches stars the mesmerizing Anjelica Huston as Miss Ernst/The Grand High Witch and Jasen Fisher as the young protagonist, Luke. The Jim Henson Company produced the film and was the final film the legendary Jim Henson worked on prior to his death.
The film had fantastic critical reviews, yet generated only $10.4 million at the box office with Dahl deeming the film as "utterly appalling" due to the ending of the film differing from the book's. His second wife, Felicity, understood his frustration and stated in 1996, "What makes Hollywood think children want the endings changed for a film, when they accept it in a book?"
4. James And The Giant Peach (1996)
James and the Giant Peach is one of Dahl's most popular works. The book was released in 1961 and in 1992, Walt Disney Pictures acquired its film rights from the Dahl estate. The stop-motion live-action film was well-received by critics and made roughly $29 million at the box office on an estimated $38 million budget.
Despite refusing numerous offers to adapt the film during his lifetime, Roald Dahl's widow, Liccy, approved of the film and believed Dahl would have been delighted with it.
It was announced in August 2016 that American Beauty and Skyfall director Sam Mendes is slated to direct a live-action version, no release date is set.
3. Matilda (1996)
The 1996 film adaptation of the 1988 novel, Matilda was directed by Danny DeVito with one of its producers being Dahl's widow, Liccy. The film stars Mara Wilson as the titular character, DeVito and Rhea Perlman as her genuinely abusive parents, the gorgeous Embeth Davidtz as Miss Honey and Pam Ferris as Miss "Why Are All These Women Married?!" Trunchbull.
Matilda currently holds a 90 percent on RT, earned $33 million on its $36 million budget in the United States, however its fantastic worldwide numbers managed to earn back nearly double its budget to $62.1 million.
For its 2013 Blu-ray release, the stars came together for a reunion and reenacted the infamous Chocolate Cake scene. Bruce Bogtrotter looks good.
Also Miss Honey...
2. Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory (1971)
Based on arguably the most popular Dahl novel, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, the film adaptation entitled Willy Wonka and The Chocolate Factory was released in 1971 starring the late and oh-so-great Gene Wilder as Wonka. Fun fact: Producers decided to switch out "Charlie" for "Willy Wonka" because at the time of its release during the height of the Vietnam War, Viet Cong and North Vietnamese forces were referred to as "Charlie." Studio execs feared the general public (who would be watching the war every night on television) would not be interested in watching the film if they used the original title.
Roald Dahl's reception to the film adaptation was not the most favorable. He was originally slated to write the screenplay, however ended up being replaced by David Seltzer for not meeting deadlines. Dahl stated he was "disappointed" with the film due to the emphasis being placed on Wonka and not Charlie, plus he disapproved of Wilder's casting, preferring Spike Milligan to have portrayed Wonka instead.
The film initially grossed $4 million on a $3 million budget in 1971 and following its re-release in 1996, ultimately grossed $21 million.
Check out some of Gene Wilder's behind-the-scenes moments from Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory in the video below:
1. Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009)
One of the most recent Dahl adaptations, the stop-motion animated Fantastic Mr. Fox was released in 2009 and directed by Wes Anderson. Starring the voice talents of George Clooney, Meryl Streep, Bill Murray and Wes Anderson himself, the film rights were bought in 2004 and is one of the highest critically rated Anderson films.
With a budget of $40 million and a competition-heavy environment (with the likes of Twilight: New Moon and Alvin And The Chipmunks 2 rearing their heads), the film ultimately grossed $46,471,023.
What Is Your Favorite Roald Dahl Adaptation?