Golden Ticket Sales for Charlie?

Raold Dahl’s time-honored children’s book gets another cinematic treatment with today’s release of director Tim Burton’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. The Warner Bros. release is sure to offer some tough competition for reigning box office champ Fantastic Four from 20th Century Fox, as well as newcomer Wedding Crashers from New Line Cinema.

Taking on the roll of candymaker Willy Wonka is Oscar nominee Johnny Depp, who also voices the lead role in Burton’s animated Corpse Bride, coming out in September. Twelve-year-old British actor Freddie Highmore, who costarred with Depp in Finding Neverland, takes on the title role of Charlie. Joining the Charlie ensemble are Burton favorites and Corpse Bride contributors Helena Bonham Carter and Christopher Lee, as well as David Kelly, Noah Taylor, James Fox and Missi Pyle. (Depp is said to have upped the freakish factor in his portrayal: His Wonka comes across as a strange mixture of Carol Channing and Michael Jackson.)

Helping Burton bring his unique visual style to the literary classic are vfx houses Cinesite (Europe), Digital Domain, Framestore CFC, Neal Scanlan Studio and The Moving Picture Company.

The film is produced by Brad Grey and Richard D. Zanuck from a screenplay by John August (Big Fish). Felicity Dahl, Patrick McCormick, Michael Siegel and Bruce Berman serve as exec producers.

Director Mel Stuart and star Gene Wilder first brought Dahl’s highly imaginative book to the big screen in 1971 with Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, which has delighted generations of viewers. Time will tell if Burton’s adaptation can hold up as well. The weekend box office results will prove whether or not moviegoers are even interested in another trip to the chocolate factory.

Go behind the scenes with Burton and his Charlie crew in this month’s issue of Animation Magazine.