24 Frames

Movies: Past, present and future

Category: Claudia Eller

Toto Recall: Disney now in the Wizard of Oz game too

March 10, 2010 |  6:46 pm

Wiza
EXCLUSIVE: Warner Bros. has two "Wizard of Oz" remakes in development. Universal has the Oz-inspired "Wicked." And now Disney has an Oz movie too -- from the producer of "Alice in Wonderland," no less.

Joe Roth, the studio-executive-turned-producer, is developing a movie called "Brick" that delves into how the Wizard of Oz came to sit behind the curtain (like Dorothy, he's apparently from Kansas). Mitchell Kapner, the writer on the mob comedy "The Whole Nine Yards," has written a draft of a screenplay, basing it on pieces from several other L. Frank Baum "Oz" books as well as his original ideas.

While the pair of Warner Bros. projects take a direct cue from "Alice" -- like the Burton picture, they're also stories about a girl protagonist on a series of identity-forging adventures -- this one takes the "Wicked" approach, imagining and elaborating on the story from a non-traditional point of view. As conceived in Kapner's script, the wizard is a charlatan who's part of a traveling circus but goes on a similar odyssey as Dorothy when he mysteriously lands in Oz. The project has heat: Roth met with Disney production president Sean Bailey on Tuesday to discuss directors and details.

After Alice earned $210 million at the global box office last weekend, it's understandable if Disney is eager to get another "Alice"-type movie in the pipeline: a family-film spectacle based on a beloved title.  And Roth is the guy who's just delivered for the studio. Some critics may bray, but if it's done well, the movie could be kind of brilliant, a deepening of the mythology that started with "The Wiz" and continued with "Wicked."

--Steven Zeitchik and Claudia Eller

Photo: Scene from "The Wizard of Oz." Credit: Turner Entertainment


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