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A new 'Wizard of Oz' could make its way down the Hollywood road

March 9, 2010 |  5:00 pm

Oz
EXCLUSIVE: Fresh off Disney's massive success with Tim Burton's "Alice in Wonderland," Warner Bros. wants to remake another childhood classic. Like, really classic.

The studio is examining two existing "Wizard of Oz" projects, with an eye toward giving one of them a modern gloss and moving it toward the screen.

One project, called "Oz," currently lives at Warner's New Line label. It's being produced by Temple Hill, which is behind a little franchise called "Twilight," and has a script written by Darren Lemke, a writer on the upcoming "Shrek Forever After."

A second "Wizard of Oz" project, set up at Warners proper, skews a little darker -- it's written by "A History of Violence" screenwriter Josh Olson and focuses on a granddaughter of Dorothy who returns to Oz to fight evil. "Clash of the Titans" producer Basil Iwanyk and his Thunder Road Pictures are behind that one. ("Spawn" creator Todd MacFarlane is potentially involved in a producerial capacity, to give you some idea of the tone.)

While the idea of a new "Wizard of Oz" movie is said to be in the development, let's-bat-this-around stage, it's been advanced seriously enough on the lot that representatives for some of the top directors around Hollywood have been briefed.

The Judy Garland-starring "The Wizard of Oz" from 1939 -- we could give you the refresher on witches, tin men, Dorothy and everyone else, but really, do we need to? -- has been given alternative treatments before. There was the 1978 black-themed film adaptation of the stage play "The Wiz." And of course about six years ago came the Broadway adaptation of Gregory Maguire's "Wicked," an alternative story of girls, witches and  Emerald City politics. The property proved a huge stage hit, prompting a film version that's in development at Universal and "Wanted" producer Marc Platt.

Audiences are likely to respond to the idea of a new silver screen "Wizard of Oz" with gusto ("at least the first one was good," said one colleague we told) or with horror, precisely because the original is such a classic.

WizBut for Warners, there's plenty of appeal in trying to take the story of Dorothy & Co. back to the big screen. For one, there's the bonkers $210 million global opening for "Alice," which shows that if you're trying to create a mega-blockbuster, one smart way to do it is to take a title people know and update it for the effects era. And there's a neat symmetry, since the Technicolor version of the classic film did for color in the movies what a lot of people say that "Avatar," "Alice" -- and now, perhaps, "Wizard" -- could do for 3-D in the movies.

With its Harry Potter series drawing to an end, Warners also likes the idea of a franchise, and "Wizard of Oz" and the many books L. Frank Baum wrote featuring many of the same characters (all of which are in the public domain) fit the bill nicely. And let's not forget the property's strong, young female protagonist, hugely in vogue now in the post -Twilight" and -"Alice" eras.

There could still be questions about the project's title (the book's "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz" is in the public domain but the movie's "The Wizard of Oz" is not; it's owned by MGM, whose library is partly owned by Warner Bros.). And then there's the matter of whether filmmakers would make the movie with musical elements, as the original, of course, did. Those questions aside, it could be the moneymaking formula.

Follow the yellow brick road. It's strewn with CGI, tent poles and 3-D. And, of course, a little green.

-- Steven Zeitchik

Photos: Scenes from "The Wizard of Oz." Credit: Warner Bros./Turner Entertainment


 
Comments () | Archives (84)

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NO! NO! NO!

Oh please, no.

It will just be like every other GCI/green screen film these days. Big on effects, but no heart.

What's the point? At least Alice in Wonderland was animation to live action. I think they will just ruin a classic film.

NO NO NO!Is nothing sacred? Leave it alone! This movie is a classic. No remake will ever be as good as the original.With all the new movies with special effects,etc available for rent families still reach for the "The Wizard Of Oz" at the local video store and it continues to be introduced to new generations every year. Again, a true classic.

Please no! That is my all-time favorite. Why mess with perfection.

There was also another remake of Oz with Dorothy et al. I think it was produced by Disney. Could have come out in the late 70's early 8o's?

dont do it!

As one of the worlds biggest collectors of L. Frank
Baum (who wrote the wonderful wizard of oz in 1899), the idea of remaking the book is fabulous for it will expose the classic to a entire new generation and most likely use 3-d.
I am very excited about the project and the story will bring a well being and fun to all the children and adults who want to return to the world of oz

Just pass out us fresh blotter at the ticket window & tell us it 's the "remake" we are going to see.

Mine is kicking in - obviously...

No! I'm crying about this idea. Uh, no, that's my allergies kicking in. But, this is my favorite movie. People give me "Oz" themed gifts or cards every year. Why screw up and make a "new" movie? We saw how crappy the Diana Ross/MJ movie was.

Leave it alone.

Make a new movie about something else. "The Hurt Locker" was great. "Precious" was, to us, the best. Can't you a$$holes in movieland find new ideas instead of screwing around with already established classics?

I don't see anyone redoing the Mona Lisa.

I think it's a good idea to renew the film. I think it's not especially for young children. It's for people who used to watch this movie a lot when they were kids. I'm only a young man, however, I used to love this film, and I'm looking forward the new one. Maybe the 2nd Wizard of Oz project a bit much, but it's Warners, so no comment. :-)

@pete - The Disney Oz movie was released in 1985 and is called Return to Oz, starring a young (and great) Fairuza Balk. I loved it as a kid. It's much darker than the Wizard of Oz with Judy Garland, but from what I've read of the books, it's more faithful to the source material. I still think it's a very good movie, sort of children's horror/dark fantasy with an ultimately happy ending. It's a bit of a cult classic now. Unfortunately if you adore everything about the perky musical version, you may not like Return to Oz. I happen to like both.

Well, gabriel, I must agree with you about having little kids watch the film. I first saw it on TV in 1960 0r 1961. I was 5 or 6. It was bad enough to see Dorothy snatched by the flying monkeys, but to see the Toto, the little dog, snatched by these flying monkeys . . .well, scared my sister and me. And she's younger than I am. No. I would not allow kids under 10 see this. 'course, I can't believe what parents will allow kids under 10 and just a hug over 10 see. Oh, and I'm no prude either. "Deep Throat" wasn't the worst thing I ever saw (okay, I was in my early 20s). But, still, "TWOO" can be scary when you're young.

I would not, could not see a remake.
Not in a house, not with a mouse.
Not in a box, not with a fox.
I would not see it here or there,
I would not see it anywhere.

This is a joke, right? This has to be a joke. No one could possibly think this is a good idea. And if they do, I'll kindly refer them to 1985's "Return to Oz."

HOW ABOUT NO

I hope this doesn't happen. Some films don't need to be remade and this is certainly one of them. If they want to travel down the yellow brick road again, than they should look at "The Wiz". That travesty, done with Diana Ross and Michael Jackson, makes me angry every time I think of it. We know the story's good and there's such great music in it. It really, really needs to be done right. Just lick your heels three times and repeat to yourself, "The Wiz", "The Wiz"...

Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!!!!

Please do not do this! The Wizard of Oz is a classic and will be ruined by modern-day (would-be) studio heads more interested in making money than art!

Everyone else says no so I say yes just to piss all of them off.
Bring the puke.

Sure, BUT DONT CALL IT WIZARD OF OZ...

I'm a big fan of darker movies, and while the Alice remake isn't the one I've been dying to watch for years (based on American McGee's Alice, a much darker and twisted wonderland) Im still all for something creepy dark and twisted for Oz. Maybe a forest full of hanging munchkins!? Let's just hope and see! :)

Leave it as is, this is a first class movie that shouldn't be touch. Just because few people can make millions off the remake that would take the history away from film. Everyear since I was young growing up the family watches the real movie. Don't ruin this classic movie. PK

Remake?

ONLY if the Lollypop Kids are Leonardo DiCaprio, Michael Fox, and Tom Cruise. That would properly set the tone for the entire movie.

For good measure, bring in Danny DiVito as the mayor of the Munchkin city.

Let's put Whoopie Goldberg in white face as Glinda The Good.

Robin Williams can do all the parts for the wizard just as in the original 1939 production.

As for Aunty Em, let's see Martha Stewart in that farmhouse.

Dorothy can be done by Richard Kind mainly because the shoes will fit, but more because he works well in an ensemble cast.

 
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