Wes Anderson chats about upcoming Roald Dahl adaptation, Henry Sugar

Wes Anderson
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Wes Anderson talks Henry Sugar, Netflix and cinemas as he considers how to get the unconventional tale before audiences.

Wes Anderson is in a creatively fertile moment right now (although in fairness, when is he not? We’d bet that even when he makes scrambled eggs, they’d have a flair-filled, cinematic aesthetic to them.

His latest film, Asteroid City is about and you can catch our review here. He’s also dipping back into the world of Roald Dahl for the first time since making 2009’s Fantastic Mr. Fox, a film that has to be in contention as one of the very best Dahl adaptations (and that’s a strong field).

Anderson has been chatting about his next Dahl project, telling Indiewire that the Henry Sugar story had essentially been set aside for him to adapt by Dahl’s family, because he enjoyed a close relationship with them from the process of making Fantastic Mr. Fox. However, when it came time to tackle the project, Dahl’s estate had struck a deal with Netflix that encompassed every single Roald Dahl work, including Henry Sugar.

“Suddenly, in essence, there was nowhere else you could do it since they own it,” explains Anderson. “But beyond it, because it’s a 37-minute movie, it was the perfect place to do it because it’s not really a movie. You know they used to do these BBC things called Play for Today directed by people like Stephen Frears and John Schlesinger and Alan Clarke. They were one hour programs or even less. I kind of envisioned something like that.”

This tidbit also adds to the story that we covered at the beginning of June regarding Henry Sugar's status as an anthology film. Dahl’s original book is a collection of short stories fronted with The Wonderful Story Of Henry Sugar and Rupert Friend, who features in Anderson’s take recently revealed that “it could change, but when we made it, there were four stories drawn from a Roald Dahl [short story collection], which are his slightly darker, twisted ones that he wrote for adults. Wes took four of them and put together a smaller troupe of actors: myself, Ralph Fiennes, Ben Kingsley, Benedict Cumberbatch, Dev Patel, and Richard Ayoade. We each play in around two of the stories and kind of change roles. I think Ralph might be in all of them. My two are The Ratcatcher and The Swan.”

So, perhaps each short film will be released separately and not as a longer anthology? It’s hard to say yey but Anderson’s comments seem to suggest this. It would certainly be a favourable approach for Netflix we imagine, allowing the platform to, in essence, release a whole series of Wes Anderson  films for the price of one.

As for working for the small screen, Anderson declared that he’ll be heading back to cinemas post-Henry Sugar, adding “it’s not quite the choice between a full-fledged cinema release and a streaming release because you would never distribute a short film like that and distribute it in cinemas. They’d have to sell cheaper tickets or do a double feature… I had only a good experience with Netflix, but I’m very happy to be putting Asteroid City in cinemas. Focus and Universal are doing it the real cinema way. That’s the way I really want my movies to be shown.”

On another note, Anderson has also revealed (in a story covered by World of Reel) that his next film will be a father/daughter story that has only two main roles, a vast departure from his usual ensemble style. As for more details on The Wonderful Story Of Henry Sugar, we’ll let you know as we hear them.

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