24 Frames

Movies: Past, present and future

« Previous | 24 Frames Home | Next »

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

March 9, 2010 |  5:00 pm

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)

The comments to this entry are closed.

No,no,no! That would be....well, blasphemy. What has been done properly once should not be done again. Like Star Trek, if enough morons try to do it wrong, they will eventually succeed.

Leave it alone please. The Wizard of Oz is a classic let it stay that way.

Oh God... I wonder if they're going to steer it more towards the "Wicked" storyline... I wouldn't be surprised.

Not that it can't be done, rather that in so doing the remakes, there is a lack of expertise this generation of artists may expose, which they can only find -- not by re-doing past art -- but by learning how that great art was divined and devised and then doing their own well, for their own time. Modern time needs a sense of history...roots, a culture that protects its past, a continuity with the myths and stories that let us know who we were and are, and can be -- one fresh and not derivative. Something of the unknown future is necessary to create the impetus and the initiative to create new pathways: Margaret Mead suggested there would be places we of one generation can only find and venture toward, guided by our young. While the exercise may be nothing more harmful than reworking new variations on a quilter's block, ultimately, art which carries us forward does not rework the past -- it creates the future, and with material of its own time and imagination. That is why going back to remake any great work is redundant. Future generations need us to provide them with the stories of the great past, written and created with superior success. Let some of the evidence stand alone, solitary because of its excellence.

Well, as I see almost everybody disagree. Everybody would leave it alone. But I'm quite sure they will make it, because of us/you who doesn't like the idea of it. Lots of people will watch it because everybody interests in how the new version looks like. It'll be a quite popular movie.

Well, as I see almost everybody disagree. Everybody would leave it alone. But I'm quite sure they will make it, because of us/you who doesn't like the idea of it. Lots of people will watch it because everybody interests in how the new version looks like. It'll be a quite popular movie.

"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.)"

Everyone may *think* that's the case, but it's not:

"Copyright does not protect names, titles, slogans, or short phrases."


I don't think we should count it out just yet, but is there a website for this upcoming movie? We might as well see the site and trailers before we cut it off.

i think the first remake would be nice.....would be great to aee it close to the origianl. glad to hear wicked is in the works. loved the book.

Tim Burtons, Alice in Wonderland was fan fiction gone wrong.

We don't the need same for another timeless classic.
But I take it now, that these days film is about hard cold cash rather than heart and soul.
This film will not be one for the history books unlike the original.

A darker Wizard of Oz? Oh please, the original is far more darker and surreal than most family films that are coming out today.

If Hollywood wants a fresh take on OZ, they should do a movie of Lost in Oz by Joshua Patrick Dudley.


have hope for heart please, the whole point is evolution. The first will always be a classic, and I believe all classics shouldn't be set in stone. They should be allowed to evolve into something better all the time. "You got to believe it's getting better, it's getting better all the time" -John Lennon.

I do not want to see a remake of this timeless classic. But little does anyone know, Judy Garland's Wizard of OZ, was also a remake. I'm not kidding. look it vup for your self. 1925,Oliver Hardy stared in the original version. He was the tin woodsman.It is a silent film, and very defferent in it's presentation of
l. Frank Baum's beloved tail.

I say bring on all the Oz Movies they can! I also say bring on more new Oz books to the market! Let new generations of children grow up on Oz the way children did from 1900 to 1943...nearly a new Oz book came out every Christmas. The 1939 movie is a classic but IMO it is what helped destroy the Oz book series, it wasn't just the economy at the time. The movie originally was not a great success. It took years for it to become a classic. The Oz book series thrived up until the point the 1939 movie came out. So, I say bring on new Oz books for children and adults to enjoy alike and continue what L Frank Baum, creator of Oz, started. No one can replace the 1939 Oz movie musical. Let "Wicked" replace that, as once that movie musical comes out it will truly be a blockbuster and become the NEXT Oz movie musical classic! But the more attention to Oz the better because any true fan of L Frank Baum's Oz books, or even the 1939 Oz movie, would want to see Baum's creation continue on for generations and generations the way it was intended to be in the first place.

Opinion is definitely mixed as to whether a Wizard of Oz movie remake is a good thing or not. Of course, it all depends on the quality of film the studio puts out. The original movie classic deserves only the best treatment. Let's hope Hollywood is up to the challenge.

I've only had a few comments so far on my page RIGHT OR WRONG? The New Wizard of Oz Movie in 3D and would welcome any additional input from your readers.

Why they just don't create new histories? These remakes only come to mess up with the classic histories! We could see it in Alice in Wonderland by Tim Burton, big effects, but he killed Alice's essence, she wasn't thinkful, What about that f*ck*n friendship between the wonderanimals (rabbit, twins etc) and alice? that was ridiculos, that fake love with the mad hatter!
I think what we need it's new ideas! NEW IDEAS!
As "the book thief" - Liesel Meminger's history can be a good movie if it get a good director and realist not a "traveler spetaculous dreamer" (And forget my bad english, I'm brazilian, so I think I don't write very well in english)

as far as a remake id love to see one I have the one everyone is calling the orignal on bluray its awesome. actually its about the third oz put to film I have return to oz which has fairuza baulk in it as dorothy came out in the 80's its a little darker. it displays the character more like u see them in the book the lion actually looks like a lion. i also have what this article i think is calling the second project its already been done its a mini series called tin man which has DG dorothy gails grand daughter fighting bad guys with a new kind of tin man scarecrow and lion.

I think this has the possibility of being a good film. The music would be very difficult because everyone has such a strong ear for what the original was like (that goes same for the entire movie). I think what a lot of people's problem with Alice was it wasn't the same Disney original animated story but I haven't once read an article saying that's what it was trying to be. Everyone I talked to after seeing the movie said "I didn't like it. It wasn't what I thought it'd be." This movie would probably get the same treatment by viewers. I, however, love the idea of darker fairy tales--like Grimm Bros meant them to be. I think if the writers went in like they did for "Alice" and said "we're not doing 'Wizard of Oz' remake, we're doing OUR Oz story" maybe did something closer to the book or as a return like they did with "Alice" something fresh and new and unexpected, this could be really good. Don't do a remake of the same story, do something new and original but with a classic as a starting off point.

With many new announcement about the wizard of oz movies in the news, you might want to consider starting to obtain WIzard of oz books.

Umm, why is everyone trying to update The Wizard of Oz. There is enough of that. Even the 1939 production of The Wizard of Oz was nothing like the book...just take the book and actually USE it. That's what I've been really waiting for.

"With many new announcement about the wizard of oz movies in the news, you might want to consider starting to obtain WIzard of oz books."

Posted by: wizard of oz books

> Yes indeed thank you! L.Frank Baum wrote 14 in fact. with all these people complaining and whining "No! Mustn't ever update the sacred oldies!" As if renovation was some sacrilege. You'd think making a new version, perhaps a prequel or sequel involved gathering up all 1939 copies and burning them. In fact lets disinter Judy and scatter her bones at the same time. That's right folks we'll never see Judy again.
> Stop being ridiculous. We need an updated version. The old one will still be shown on cable 80 times a year and you can still sing along all you want.
> We have all these new techs and all these new actors and actresses. Lets use them for our better entertainment.

Well, when you look at it for the older generation its a really stupid thing. Remaking probably the greatest fantasy film of all time! But when you look at it for the younger generation its a good thing cause if they see it and really get in to it and wanna see the original. That is what happen to my little sister. She saw the remake of Alice in Wonderland (which by the way sucked!) she wanted to see the original. I would like to see a darker version of Oz like more forest-like looks to it but I just don't want to see them screw it up. So Warner Brothers, if you can make a good remake, then "the wizard of Oz" is yours.

Why mess with a classic? Because done right with all the special effects we have today, this could possibly be the modern equivalent of how incredible the original was... The idea is to take it to the next level. The Wizard of Oz is one of my favorite movies of all time and I too am a little worried that they could ruin it but the excitement of seeing what a visionary moviemaker could make it into with the technology we have today tops my concern...I say go for it!

Please dont do this Hollywood...Its a classic. No one can reproduce the best movie ever.

Cant once something not be about the $.......


« | 1 2 3 4 | »


Recommended on Facebook


In Case You Missed It...




Get Alerts on Your Mobile Phone

Sign me up for the following lists: