Paid in Chocolate: Which Wonka Movie Is The Most Expensive (And Most Successful)?

Paid in Chocolate: Which Wonka Movie Is The Most Expensive (And Most Successful)?
Image credit: Warner Bros.

Only one of them truly got a golden ticket.


  • Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is a children's novel by British author Roald Dahl.
  • The novel has been the basis of three Hollywood adaptations, beginning with the 1971 musical Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory and ending with Wonka in 2023.
  • Although all three movies have their loyal fans, one seems to be more commercially successful than the others.

While some children's stories remain exclusively for the little ones, others find their way into the mainstream media and become extremely popular with audiences of all ages and tastes. After all, the darker the world around us, the greater the need for lighthearted, precious fantasy stories.

Wonka, which has just been released in theaters, is one of those films that is much needed to remind people of the magic that is hidden in small things. Starring Timothee Chalamet, the film got off to a strong start with an 84% critical rating on Rotten Tomatoes, proving that it does justice to the beloved novel.

However, like any other remake of a popular story, Wonka has faced some controversy from fans of previous releases. 1971's Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory and 2005's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory are both undeniably strong contenders.

Although it's clear now that Wonka has already earned its place in the hearts of audiences, the more important question from an industry perspective is whether it managed to commercially topple other films. Here is a comparison of the budgets and earnings of all three films.

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971)

The oldest of the three films, starring the one and only Gene Wilder in the role of Willy Wonka, was not a huge success upon its release. Although it managed to exceed its $3 million budget, it only made a $1 million profit.

However, both the critical and audience response to the movie was good enough to earn it some positive features in the media at the time of its release. Now the movie has a 91% critics rating and an 87% audience rating on Rotten Tomatoes, which shows the love people have for it.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005)

This famous movie starring Johnny Depp was a much bigger success. The $150 million budget was completely covered and even tripled in box office receipts. Domestic and international releases combined earned Charlie and the Chocolate Factory $470 million at the box office.

While the film's commercial success is undeniable, audiences and critics have not been as unanimous in their praise. The film's Rotten Tomatoes score is the lowest of the three films at 83%, and the audience score is barely halfway through the bar at 53%.

Wonka (2023)

Although the latest film has a lot going for it, its budget was reportedly smaller than Tim Burton's, with Warner Bros. spending $125 million on the production. However, Wonka has already surpassed it with $152 million at the box office after its first weekend.

Since the story is being released in the pre-Christmas season, it's safe to assume that number will explode next weekend.

Will the holiday spirit and the desperate need to keep the holiday cheer alive be enough for Wonka to triple its current results and surpass its 2005 predecessor? We will have to wait and see. Until then, you can make your own impact on the box office by seeing Wonka at your local theater.

Source: Box Office Mojo, Variety