Posted on Friday, June 11th, 2010 by Russ Fischer
In late April, we started to hear about a new tentpole brewing over at Disney. Oz, the Great and Powerful is a prequel of sorts to The Wizard of Oz, with Robert Downey, Jr. attached to star in the title role. At the time this first came up, the two directors in the running seemed to be Sam Mendes and Adam Shankman, but now an offer has actually gone out to someone much better suited to the film: Sam Raimi.
Vulture says the offer went out early this morning, but the report has no confirmation one way or the other about whether Raimi is likely to take it. We’ve wondered what he would do next, since Sony scrapped plans for a fourth Raimi-directed Spider-Man movie. He’s got a deal with Warner Bros. to develop and make a film based on the video game World of Warcraft, but that still seems to be a way off.
Oz, the Great and Powerful is a script by Mitchell Kapner that was called Brick earlier this year. As I said when we first reported on this, Kapner’s script takes the idea that the Wizard is also transported to Oz from Kansas, and details how he came to be the power seen in The Wizard of Oz. Kapner based the script off of a collection of influences from L. Frank Baum’s Oz books as well as some ideas of his own to produce a story that suggests “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.”
Meanwhile, Vulture notes that there are two other Oz films actually in development at Warner Bros. right now. One is Wizard of Oz (a remake?) written by Josh Olson. The other is Oz, at New Line, written by Darren Lemke with Twilight producers Marty Bowen and Wyck Godfrey behind it. That’s typical, however, especially of late. Everyone seems to have the same ideas, and it’s a matter of what can be pulled together first.
And note that when I say that Raimi is a much better choice for this film than Mendes or Shankman, that isn’t the same as saying it would be the best film for him to make. I’d rather see him doing any number of projects other than this Oz prequel. But if you’re producing Oz, the Great and Powerful, Raimi has to seem like the brass ring. This is right in his wheelhouse, and I do have to say: seeing him work with Downey could be great stuff.
(Then again, Vulture doesn’t mention Downey at all in this report, which leads me to wonder if he’s not as closely tied to this as has been reported.)