When does Wonka take place? Prequel timeline explained

Lucy-Jo Finnighan
Wonka still

Here’s when Wonka takes place in comparison to the other movies.

Timothée Chalamet stepped into the role of Wonka in 2023 as the prequel film revealed the history of the eccentric chocolatier.

But there have been plenty of other movies based on the character from the Roald Dahl book. This includes Mel Stuart’s 1971 Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, and Tim Burton’s 2005 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

But what does this mean for the timeline of the Willy Wonka franchise? Is the 2023 film a prequel to a particular film, and what period is it set in? Well, now that Wonka is streaming, read on to find out.

When does Wonka take place?

Wonka is set sometime in the Victorian/Edwardian era, judging by its costumes. While Wonka is not an official prequel, director Paul King revealed Wonka is a companion piece to the 1971 Gene Wilder film.

Wonka is regarded as a companion film rather than a straight prequel, as the timelines wouldn’t add up. Even going back to the original 1964 source material, Wonka is said to be born in 1917 in the book, which again would set Wonka sometime in the 1930s-40s.

We can also count another factor: this story isn’t set in the real world.

See, Wonka is set in a world with chocolate capitals, made-up countries, and magical candy, and has a multicultural cast despite taking on the costumes and behavior of Victorian England. So understandably it doesn’t follow the history and geography of the real world. Therefore, timeline accuracy and setting is a moot point.

Ultimately, Wonka is going to explain how he came to forge his empire, long before Charlie Bucket came around. It is set in a general sense before the characters’ other films.

Considering that each film takes liberties with its timeframe and its worldbuilding, we can toss all logic and reason when it comes to timelines out of the window. It’s what Wonka would do.

For more on the movie, find out about the Wonka box office, Wonka runtime, or Wonka cast.