In September, Netflix announced that it had acquired the Roald Dahl Story Company, and with it, the author’s entire body of work. Now, there’s a little more info on that deal: this past week, the Daily Mail announced that, according to newly filed documents, Netflix will pay Dahl’s estate £370 million for the film and TV rights to Dahl’s catalogue.
According to the documents, sale proceeds will be “held by the company’s solicitors,” who in this case are Dahl’s widow Felicity, his grandson Luke Kelly, his daughter Ophelia, and Ophelia’s firm Gipsy House Trustees Ltd (hm). But not all the money will go straight to Dahl’s descendants: Roald Dahl Story Company has announced a “significant part” of the sale’s proceeds will be used to set up a charitable trust to support charity partners in the areas of children’s health, anti-hate and anti-racism. The financial specifics have not been released.
One possible factor in establishing this trust: In 2020, the Dahl family and the Roald Dahl Story Company quietly released a short statement apologizing for the “lasting and understandable hurt” caused by “prejudiced remarks” made by Dahl, who was notoriously anti-Semitic. “Those prejudiced remarks are incomprehensible to us and stand in marked contrast to the man we knew and to the values at the heart of Roald Dahl’s stories, which have positively impacted young people for generations,” read the statement in part. “We hope that, just as he did at his best, at his absolute worst, Roald Dahl can help remind us of the lasting impact of words.”
“Apologizing for the words of a much-loved grandparent is a challenging thing to do, but made more difficult when the words are so hurtful to an entire community,” the Roald Dahl Story Company later told The New York Times. “These comments do not reflect what we see in his work—a desire for the acceptance of everyone equally—and were entirely unacceptable. We are truly sorry.”