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

March 10, 2010 |  6:46 pm

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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Wow. This is going to be huge. It's like a prequel to the original. Great idea. Doing it from the wizard's point of view is genius, can't believe no one thought of it before

Are Tim Burton and Johnny Depp doing this? Depp has the wizard would be great.

Hopefully Disney's second attempt at an Oz movie will be successful. Their 1980's-era "Return to Oz" starring a young Fairuza Balk as Dorothy bombed.

Zardoz is clearly the best Wizard of Oz inspired film. Like some of the others mentioned here, it takes a new view on the old story, and is the tale of travel and adventure in a wondrous new land. Why not check it out on wikipedia then watch it with the whole family?

Sorry, but I hated Wicked and I hate the idea of this knock-off as well. Some things should remain pure. The Wizard of Oz is absolutely one of those things. Next there'll be a prequel called "Horse of a Different Color" written from the horse's view point, or "Elvira Gulch, Before the Picnic Basket" chronicling the years before she became the mean neighbor who demanded Toto's surrender for destruction. Or a sequel, "Dorothy Gale - Back in OZ!," where the premise is that "the real dream" was that she had dreamed that it was all a dream in the first place - and she's still in OZ! OH m'Gawd!!

The problem with these re-makes, for me anyway, is that the bulk of the charm of the original lies in the quality of the people who created these indelible characters and images (the actors, directors, et al), the inherent innocence that comes across - a byproduct unique to the time in which it was made - and the film style and capabilities that were utilized in the late 1930's, which would be hard-pressed to re-create, and which today's youth would hardly appreciate.

I beg of you, anyone who would pay heed, do not further tarnish the classics with these updated, but grossly inferior re-makes. Enough is enough!

This idea sounds better than the Warner Bros. or New Line. Going back to the original Baum books is smart - people don't understand that in the original Baum books OZ wasn't a dream - MGM made a lot of changes from the original text - this could be a version of the movie the way Baum envisioned it over 100 years ago.

Disney?? that just ruins everything...
Why are these filmmakers so unimaginative that they can't think of new ideas and make NEW classics??

You need to make this remake 3D and have it made as either a comedy or a scary version like for instant make the story plot my eyre and on the dark side that would be cool or keep it as is with some kind of a different twist like they did with Alice. So I hope to be seeing sone of these ideas soon "wink"


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