5:56 PM PST 1/28/2020
Roald Dahl’s beloved children’s book is once again getting the big-screen treatment, this time with Netflix joining the production.
Matilda the Musical, based on Roald Dahl’s children’s novel, is coming to the big screen — and small.
Sony Pictures and Netflix are partnering on a film adaptation that will get a full theatrical and home video run exclusively in the U.K. and then stream on Netflix platforms around the world, according to sources with knowledge of the deal.
Representatives from Sony and Netflix declined comment.
Sources say details of the release are still being worked out. It is unclear how the two companies are splitting the cost of the production and at what point in the U.K. theatrical run Matilda will be released on the streaming giant.
Sony sees upside in the exclusive U.K. release, according to a knowledgeable source. The 2017 film Paddington 2 grossed $59.5 million at the U.K. box office.
Previously, Netflix co-financed New Line’s 2019 disappointment Shaft and began streaming it internationally two weeks after its U.S. theatrical release. The streamer also co-financed A24’s Adam Sandler drama Uncut Gems, which will begin streaming in overseas territories on Friday (it is still playing in U.S. theaters).
As The Hollywood Reporter reported in October, Sony’s TriStar division is devoting resources to streaming deals to start making movies belonging exclusively or almost exclusively to Netflix. Sony has been in a protracted but as-yet incomplete negotiation to make Masters of the Universe for Netflix. The streamer also has the series She-Ra and the Princesses of Power, plus an upcoming He-Man anime series.
Sony’s Tri-Star unit made a film version of Matilda in 1996 that disappointed at the box office but became a favorite with many fans. The success of the musical obviously greatly increased the value of the IP.
For Netflix, the deal provides an opportunity to acquire streaming rights to a beloved, pre-branded property. The musical has been running in London since 2011 and has played around the world. Matilda the Musical ran on Broadway from 2013 until it closed on Jan. 1, 2017, after 1,555 performances and winning four Tony Awards.
Netflix said in 2018 that it would adapt Dahl’s catalog of children’s stories into a new slate of animated series, including Matilda, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and The BFG.
The film adaptation of Matilda the Musical will be helmed by Matthew Warchus, who was also the director of the stage musical that won several Laurence Olivier Awards in 2012. Warchus is artistic director of London’s Old Vic Theatre and helmed the 1999 film Simpatico starring Nick Nolte and 2014’s Pride starring Bill Nighy. Dennis Kelly, who won a Tony for best book for adapting the novel, will write the screenplay.
Matilda follows the story of a young bookworm prodigy mistreated by her ignorant parents. At a school run by an abusive headmistress, she finds a kindred spirit in her teacher, Miss Honey.