The official kick-off of Netflix's planned Roald Dahl universe of interconnected films and series will take place later this year with the arrival of The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar, Both the story of a man who steals a book and teaches himself to see the future (sort of) and a meditation on greed, generosity, and the ways we can all care for one another, it's a short, impactful story with a distinctly hopeful feel. (And one whose climax involves opening a whole lot of orphanages. Just go with it.)
Set to premiere at the Venice Film Festival at the end of August before arriving on Netflix later this Fall, Henry Sugar is based on Dahl's 1977 collection of short stories called The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar and Six More and is directed by Oscar nominee Wes Anderson (Asteroid City) who is known for his quirky, pastel infused, and frequently dreamlike storytelling style. The film will be comprised of four parts, with a total run time of just 37 minutes. (And if anybody can pull off this particular oddity of timing, it's probably Anderson.) This marks the iconic director's second adaptation of Dahl's work, following his 2009 feature Fantastic Mr. Fox.
The ensemble cast is predictably starry — it's a Wes Anderson movie, after all! — and features Benedict Cumberbatch (The Power of the Dog) as the titular Henry Sugar, alongside Ralph Fiennes (The Menu) as Dahl himself.
The official synopsis is, much like the final product, extremely brief.
A rich man learns about a guru who can see without using his eyes.
He sets out to master the skill in order to cheat at gambling.
Extremely faithfully adapted from Roald Dahl’s long short story.
The film's ensemble cast includes such recognizable names as Dev Patel (The Green Knight), Ben Kingsley (Jules), Rupert Friend (Anatomy of a Scandal), Asa Jennings (Sing 2), and Richard Ayoade (The IT Crowd).
Anderson's film is the first official installment in Netflix's ambitious plan to create an interconnected universe of projects ranging from live-action TV programs and feature films to animated series and video games, all based around Dahl's characters and stories. (Though 2022’s Matilda the Musical was labeled part of Netflix’s Dahliverse, the studio acquired prior to its 2021 purchase of the Roald Dahl Story Company and the rights to all of the author's works.)
The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar will officially premiere on Netflix on Friday, October 13, 2023.