Get your ruby slippers on for Oz overload

It seems like everything coming out of Hollywood these days is a remake, reboot, sequel or prequel.

One such movie that has escaped the same treatment — for the most part — is the classic “The Wizard of Oz,” aside from Disney’s 1985 “Return to Oz” and Motown spiritual, “The Wiz.” But that’s all about to change. Poor Dorothy and the gang are about to be reused, rehashed and recycled.

Following on the heels of the highly financially successful “Alice in Wonderland” ($1 billion worldwide) Hollywood is looking to cash in on older franchises — there’s even a new “Pinocchio” in the works. According to multiple reports, Sam Raimi of “Spider-Man” fame is set to direct a film starring Robert Downey Jr. as the Wizard during his days as a carney when he was taken to Oz and mistaken for a wizard. The film will be called “Oz, the Great and Powerful.”

There are other Oz-related projects in the works, like “Witches of Oz,” due out later this year. The movie follows the exploits of the grown Dorothy Gale, now a successful children’s book author, as

she moves from Kansas to present day New York City. Dorothy quickly learns that her popular books are based on repressed childhood memories, and that the wonders of Oz are very, very real after the Wicked Witch of the West comes after her. There are also plenty of rumors about a “Wicked” movie, based on the book and successful musical.

There’s also an animated film in the works called “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz,” due out next year that is directly based off the books by L. Frank Baum (see photo on left). There’s another movie in the works to star Drew Barrymore called “Surrender Dorothy.” Barrymore would play a descendant of the original Dorothy, in this case her great, great grand-daughter, who has to stop the original and not nearly as dead as we thought Wicked Witch of the West from taking over both Oz and Earth. Barrymore has said she wants to direct.

“Oz: Return To The Emerald City” is a Warner Bros’ Oz project. Return to Emerald City would have Dorothy Neil, a Chicago lawyer and granddaughter of the original Dorothy, transported to Oz with her boss’s daughter where they team up with the Scarecrow, the Tin Man and the Cowardly Lion to stop a new witch who threatens to destroy all the magic in Oz. Reportedly, this take originated back when comic book artist Todd McFarlane pitched the production company Thunder Road on an Oz film based on his very bizarre “Twisted Land Of Oz” toy line. Thunder Road passed on McFarlane’s take but were still interested in the basic idea on an Oz-update when “A History Of Violence” screenwriter Josh Olson pitched them a similar idea in a meeting. Thunder Road approached Warner Brothers, who snapped up the project. It is currently being rewritten and has no director attached.

Principle character sketches for Dorothy of Oz

The last Oz project is “Dorothy of Oz,” an animated musical film with a nice voice cast including Lea Michele of the popular television series “Glee” as Dorothy, Dan Aykroyd as the Scarecrow, Kelsey Grammer as the Tin Man and James Belushi as the Cowardly Lion. Based on a story by Baum’s grandson Roger S. Baum, Dorothy once again returns to Oz to help her friends stop the menace of someone known only as the Jester.

A couple of these films have a shot at being good. I really like Sam Raimi. But because of the overload of Oz movies coming out, some of these will be delayed, get lost in the shuffle, or just plain tank.

Some footage of “Witches of Oz.”

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7 responses to “Get your ruby slippers on for Oz overload

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Get your ruby slippers on for Oz overload « The Movie Brothers -- Topsy.com

  2. Has Hollywood learned nothing after Gus Van Sant’s disaster remake of a classic film?

  3. Hey there,

    Long time since I dropped over, long over due! This is a great article and really digs into this long running plan to mine the past for successful films, animations, television series, and just about anything else that showed some success over the years. I mean hey, don’t get me wrong, business is business and complaining about what Hollywood is doing is akin to complaining about Ford, Toyota and just about everyone else stopping most of their efforts on creating new cars and just finding newer gadgets and crap to put in the dashboard to help sell them to everyday joes and janes.

    Nice historical perspective too, digging back into the Disney archives can be quite informative as we see the split that has been “in the works” for years now as Pixar tries to severe the imbilical cord. Sure, as long as Disney maintains the distribution channels Pixar is going to play ball but to be honest, who really has challenged Pixar in the past 10 years?

    Anyway, much for much discourse.

    Hope this finds you well
    Cheers->
    Rory

    • Hey Rory,

      Thanks for reading!

      This case is unusual from most Hollywood rehashes in that it’s really about to get battered and abused like an old baseball mitt. We have yet to see so many rehashes of a source material as we’re about to see.

      Personally, I think this Witches of Oz movie looks like garbage.

      • Yeah, I saw this teaser a while back and PERSONALLY, I think it sounds great! From what I have read, it sounds nothing like a remake! Seems the people involved are great Baum fans and wanted to create a more in depth take on the book.

        Being a fan of the books, would love to see all the Witches of Oz represented here! Looking fwd to this!

  4. The animated musical sequel Dorothy of Oz looks to be a wonderful adventure, with new and old characters that will make the journey enjoyable. Cant wait for it to come out!!!

    • Thanks for the comments and thank you for reading!

      I can’t say I share your enthusiasm because I’ve lost my faith in these sorts of projects. I will say, though, that I’d love to be proven wrong.

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