Who Gets Roald Dahl's $680 Million in Royalties From Netflix?

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Sep. 23 2021, Published 2:02 p.m. ET

In a sweeping investment, Netflix has splurged $680 million on Roald Dahl's entire collection of work to expand its streaming repertoire. The move comes despite controversy surrounding the deceased author, particularly his racist and antisemitic public comments.

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With the author nearly 31 years gone, who will profit off of the Netflix deal of a lifetime?

Netflix splurges on entire Roald Dahl collection

Netflix is spending $680 million on a sweeping Roald Dahl collection, which includes a range of popular works the writer is known for. These include:

  • Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

  • The Witches

  • Matilda

  • The BFG

  • James and the Giant Peach

  • Fantastic Mr. Fox

  • Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

  • You Only Live Twice

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In 2018, Netflix acquired 16 licenses that it will use to develop numerous animated series (and a musical adaptation of Matilda) based off of Dahl's work. By acquiring the rights to the entire collection, Netflix will be able to create games, products, and even live theater shows based on the work.

Roald Dahl died in 1990.

Dahl died at age 74 on November 23, 1990. Currently, The Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre exists in the same Buckinghamshire village where he was buried. He died from an infection that was never made public.

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Dahl's daughter Olivia died years before in 1962 from measles encephalitis. She was 7 years old at the time of her death, which prompted Dahl to advocate for vaccines.

Dahl's history of racism and antisemitism comes into the limelight

In December 2020, Dahl's family publicly apologized for his anti-semitism during his life. In a statement, they wrote that they "deeply apologise for the lasting and understandable hurt caused by Roald Dahl’s antisemitic statements." They followed up by saying, "We loved Roald, but we passionately disagree with his antisemitic comments."

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The apology came just over three decades after Dahl's death. He once told a British reporter, "There is a trait in the Jewish character that does provoke animosity. [...] Even a stinker like Hitler didn't just pick on them for no reason."

One of Dahl's most well-known works, James and the Giant Peach, has been viewed as racist, sexist, and profane in a modern light.

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What was Roald Dahl's net worth when he died?

By the time he died in 1990, Dahl was worth upwards of $10 million. That's a big gap from the $680 million his works went for today.

Dahl was married at the time of his death to Felicity Crosland, who inherited the value he left in his will.

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Who gets paid in Roald Dahl's Netflix deal?

The Roald Dahl estate gets the money from the Netflix deal. Netflix is officially partnering with RDSC (Roald Dahl Story Company). Dahls' widow is now deceased, but he had other children besides Olivia. Tessa, Lucy, Ophelia, and Theo Dahl are all around to handle the Roald Dahl estate. All four of them are the children of Dahl and Patricia Neal, who Dahl was married to prior to Crosland.

Additionally, employees of RDSC such as managing director Luke Kelly will profit.

The Roald Dahl estate will donate some of the funds earned in the deal to charitable anti-racist organizations to attempt to make amends for Dahl's racism.

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