Netflix Buys Roald Dahl Story Company for $686 Million

A new generation will enjoy Dahl’s iconic stories while Netflix secures exclusive content to compete against other streaming services.

Netflix bought the golden ticket! The subscription streaming service announced last week they are acquiring the Roald Dahl Story Company (RDSC), buying the rights to iconic stories like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Matilda and James and the Giant Peach which have entertained readers and viewers for generations. The deal is reportedly worth about $686 million, or £500, according to the Financial Times. The acquisition is subject to customary closing conditions and regulatory approvals.

Expanding existing partnership

According to a September 22, 2021 blog post, the acquisition extends a partnership Netflix started three years ago to create a slate of animated TV series based on Dahl’s work. Variety reports that $1 billion in production spending is planned, including a series based on Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and an adaption of Matilda the Musical.

“These projects opened our eyes to a much more ambitious venture – the creation of a unique universe across animated and live action films and TV, publishing, games, immersive experiences, live theatre, consumer products and more,” said Ted Sarandos, co-CEO and chief content officer, and Luke Kelly, managing director, RDSC and Roald Dahl’s grandson, in the announcement.

“Roald Dahl’s books have been translated into 63 languages and sold more than 300 million copies worldwide, with characters like Matilda, The BFG, Fantastic Mr. Fox, Willy Wonka and The Twits delighting generations of children and adults. These stories and their messages of the power and possibility of young people have never felt more pertinent,” Sarandos and Kelly said.

Netflix said they are committed to maintaining the spirit and timeless themes Dahl is known for in a new collection of works in a variety of formats, designed to appeal to a wide age range.

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“Together, we have an extraordinary opportunity to write multiple new chapters of these beloved stories, delighting children and adults around the world for generations to come,” said Netflix.

About Roald Dahl

Roald Dahl was born in Wales on September 13, 1916. He had a long, fascinating and multi-faceted life touching the hearts and lives of millions. At the age of 23, Dahl enlisted in the Royal Air Force and flew during World War II. After suffering injuries from a crash landing, he provided intelligence to MI6, and, in 1960, helped invent a valve to help those with head injuries like his son who was hurt in an accident in New York. James and the Giant Peach was published in 1961, followed by Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Dahl wrote screenplays, adult novels and other children’s classics including The Twits, The BFG and The Witches. The beloved author died in 1990 at the age of 74. His legacy lives on, including annual celebrations on his birthday – September 13 – which has been designated as Roald Dahl Day.

Netflix strategy

With growing competition in the streaming space, particularly among subscription streaming services like Disney+ and HBO Max, Netflix focuses on providing the best exclusive and original content it can afford. In the company’s first quarter shareholder letter, Netflix said they will spend $17 billion on content this year to provide “an amazing range of titles for our members with more originals this year than last.” This original content strategy, as well as a focus on customer experience, will help Netflix remain among the top streaming services.

“More and more new streaming services are launching, reinforcing our vision that linear TV will slowly give way to streaming entertainment. Despite our 10+ year head start, we are continually seeking operational and creative excellence; we’re working as hard as ever to continually improve our service so that we are the best entertainment option available with best in class stories, an ever-improving product experience and authentic local titles that our members love,” Netflix said.

Insider Take

As someone who grew up loving Roald Dahl’s stories, especially the original Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory movie starting Gene Wilder, I am thrilled to see Dahl’s legacy live on. A new generation of viewers can enjoy the fantastical, whimsical worlds Dahl created, while Netflix further solidifies its spot as one of the top streaming services. Original content based on Dahl’s incredible stories will be particularly advantageous for Netflix as they compete with Disney+ for family-friendly programming.