Netflix buys the Roald Dahl Story Company

Netflix buys the Roald Dahl Story Company

Netflix has bought the Roald Dahl Story Company (RDSC) in a deal reportedly worth more than £500m.

The streaming giant’s purchase of the company, which is owned by the late author’s family and manages the rights to his characters, was announced on 22nd September and is thought to be the biggest content deal of its kind by Netflix. Neither side have commented on the fee, but Sky News reported the deal was worth upwards of £500m.

Its acquisition follows a previous deal between the two companies three years ago to create a roster of animated TV shows, including Taika Waititi’s forthcoming series based on Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and a project with Sony and Working Title to adapt "Matilda The Musical".

In its announcement, the streaming giant said: “These projects opened our eyes to a much more ambitious venture — 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 company said it would “continue the close working relationships established by RDSC with existing rights holders, publishing, theatre and entertainment partners”. 

Penguin Random House’s existing deal for the publishing rights to Dahl’s works is not thought to be affected by the move. Puffin’s most recent Dahl title was Never Grow Up, a book released in June and penned by an in-house team that was “inspired” by the author’s works and featured illustrations by Quentin Blake. Dahl's books have been translated into 63 languages and sold more than 300 million copies worldwide, according to Netflix.

In a letter sent by RDSC to its stakeholders and seen by The Bookseller, the company said: “Our mission at the Roald Dahl Story Company is to share the stories’ messages of hope and of the power and the possibility of young people.We believe being part of a larger company will give us the additional support to continue in that mission. Netflix has agreed to acquire RDSC in a transaction that will build on the success that we have achieved in recent years.”

The company said it had plans in place for 19 TV shows, films, stage shows and live experiences. “With Netflix’s support we will be able to reach even more young people and families around the world,” it said.

It added a “significant part” of the sale’s proceeds would be used to set up a charitable trust to support new charity partners on issues surrounding children’s health, anti-hate and anti-racism. All of its staff will “benefit financially from the sale”.

Pending completion of the deal, the current team will stay in place, operating as an “autonomous unit” within Netflix. The letter states: “We will also continue to work with our huge host of partners, such as our publishers globally and our charities, theatre partners and more. We look forward to those relationships continuing long into the future with the added resources and opportunities that Netflix will bring.”

Netflix said: “Netflix and The Roald Dahl Story Company share a deep love of storytelling and a growing, global fan base. Together, we have an extraordinary opportunity to write multiple new chapters of these beloved stories, delighting children and adults around the world for generations to come.”