Wonka Footage Reaction: Timothée Chalamet Inspires More Pure Imagination [CinemaCon 2022]

Who can take a sunrise, sprinkle it with dew, cover it with chocolate, and a miracle or two? Apparently, Timothée Chalamet can! Willy Wonka, the beloved, eccentric chocolatier from Roald Dahl's 1964 children's novel, "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory," has made his way onto the big screen twice before, with Gene Wilder in 1971 and Johnny Depp in 2005. Both films were an adaptation of Dahl's book, but the upcoming Warner Bros. musical-prequel "Wonka" will feature Chalamet as a young Wonka, years before Charlie Bucket came around to win the future of his factory.

Despite Tim Burton's 2005 adaptation of Dahl's work providing a would-be backstory for the famed candy maker, the story was completely unique to Burton's vision. Is "Wonka" going to be as scrumdiddlyumptious as we hope, or should we anticipate a film as sour as Slugworth? Warner Bros. revealed their first look at the upcoming film during CinemaCon, and we were fortunate enough to have /Film's own Ben Pearson in attendance, to give us an inside perspective at what "Wonka" looks to offer, as well as express the reception of the footage in the room.

Wonka Footage

The first footage for "Wonka" featured plenty of dance numbers and a sweet dose of nostalgia, but it also introduced Timothee Chalamet's take on the famed fictional chocolatier. The CinemaCon glimpse began with a familiar tune: "Pure Imagination." Audiences catch a glimpse of Wonka riding into town on a truck, and before we know it he's charming kids and adults alike with chocolate bars. This version of Wonka hawks his wares on a street corner like an old-timey vendor, announcing, "Ladies and gentleman, my name is Willy Wonka!"

The sneak peek also included our first look at Keegan Michael Key and Sally Hawkins, the former playing a cop who tries Wonka chocolate and loves it, while Hawkins' character offers one of several inspiring, wonder-filled one-liners in the promo, saying, "Every good thing in this world started with a dream."

This younger version of Wonka seems to be less well-established and also a bit of a rascal. When he's not trying to convince townsfolk that his chocolate is magically delicious, he's hiding in a hay truck and dodging policeman who chase him down a sewer. At the end of the promotional reel, he enlists a young girl's help on a world-changing mission, and opens a chocolate bar to reveal a glimmer of gold. The camera captures a reimagined golden note within the bar's wrapper, with a message written on it: "It's not the chocolate that matters, it's the people you share it with."

For a character as recognizable as Willy Wonka, Dahl's books of "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" and "Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator," don't offer much insight into Wonka's younger years. Dahl has since passed on, so writer/director Paul King and co-writer Simon Farnaby surely have their work cut out for them. "Wonka" producer David Heyman is fully aware of the challenge, but believes the crew is up to the task. "I think there's a lot in his character that suggests who he is and also where he might come from or what his childhood or his middle age might have been like," he said, "So we're exploring that."

"Wonka" began principal photography in the U.K. in September 2021 and is scheduled to open in theaters on March 17, 2023.