Netflix has acquired the works of Roald Dahl, the author of children’s classics including Matilda, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and the BFG, in the streaming company’s biggest content deal to date.
The deal struck by Netflix, which already has a three-year deal in place with the Roald Dahl Story Company to license 16 titles, will help it build its content arsenal in the streaming wars against rivals including Disney+, Amazon Prime Video and HBO Max.
Netflix’s total production budget under the existing licensing deal was reported in 2018 to be $500m-$1bn. Netflix said that deal, which includes the Jojo Rabbit director Taika Waititi creating a TV series based on the world of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and an adaptation of Matilda the Musical, had “opened our eyes to a much more ambitious venture”.
Netflix said: “The creation of a unique universe across animated and live action films and TV, publishing, games, immersive experiences, live theatre consumer products and more.”
The Roald Dahl estate offers a huge global opportunity for Netflix as his books have been translated into 63 languages and sold more than 300m copies.
“Looking ahead, we’re excited to continue the close working relationships established by the Roald Dahl Story Company with existing rights holders, publishing, theatre and entertainment partners,” Netflix said.
Acquisitions of back catalogues are rare for Netflix, which has built up a customer base of more than 200 million subscribers partly on the back of spending billions of dollars striking deals with big-name film-makers and producers to make exclusive content.