In October 2011, I got to visit the wonderful world of Oz and watch director Sam Raimi direct his preboot (prequel/reboot) of the classic L. Frank Baum book series. I learned much on the set of Oz: The Great and Powerful. Most fascinating to me was some of the things Disney had to do satisfy legal concerns over possibly violating copyrighted imagery from the classic 1939 film adaptation, owned by Warner Bros.

And while trailers for the film focus on wholly computer-generated worlds and characters, you might be shocked to learn the lengths that Sam Raimi went through to shoot a lot of the film practically. For example, it was interesting to see Raimi inventing new practical solutions to help the supporting actors create and react to live performances for characters who would eventually be created in CG — and I’m not talking about performance capture.

After the jump you can watch a video blog we recorded talking about the visit, followed by many more things I learned while on the set.

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One would imagine Sam Raimi is planning on being incredibly respectful to the original Wizard of Oz with his 2013 3D prequel, Oz The Great and Powerful. There’s just no way the filmmaker would even think to tackle such a mythos unless he could pay homage to the classic film in new and interesting ways. One of those ways has just been revealed thanks to one of the film’s young stars. Joey King, who also stars in The Dark Knight Rises, revealed in an interview that the film begins, and presumably ends, in black and white just like the original. Read her quote and more after the jump. Read More »

With the press release announcing the commencement of shooting on Sam Raimi‘s Oz the Great and Powerful, I’d hoped we might have some small casting additions. Maybe a role for Ted Raimi? Nothing new on that front, however. So we’ll make do with the knowledge that James Franco, Mila Kunis, Rachel Weisz and Michelle Williams lead the cast.

The release does have a few good tidbits of info, however, such as the fact that cinematographer Peter Deming (Evil Dead II, Drag Me to Hell, Lost Highway) is shooting. That’s great news; I’ve been a big fan of Mr. Deming’s work for many years, and thought he did a wonderful job on Drag Me to Hell.  Additionally, Howard Berger is “[creating] the looks of several of the unique denizens of Oz, including creatures such as the Whimsies, the Tinkers and the Winkies, as well as the ghastly look of the Wicked Witch of the West.”

The official synopsis follows after the break. Read More »

Briefly: Given that Christopher Nolan is now shooting The Dark Knight Rises, we probably won’t see too many more notable names added to the cast. In fact, this might be the last: Josh Stewart from The Collector and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button has taken an unknown role in the film. Like many of the other recent cast announcements, his part may not be significant, but he joins what is looking like an impressive ensemble cast.

So we’ve got returning actors Christian Bale as Bruce Wayne / Batman; Michael Caine as Alfred; Gary Oldman as James Gordon; and Morgan Freeman as Lucius Fox, with newcomers Tom Hardy as Bane; Anne Hathaway as Selina Kyle; Juno Temple as a “street-smart Gotham girl;” Josh Pence as young Ra’s al Ghul; Joseph Gordon-Levitt as John Blake, “a Gotham City beat cop;” Marion Cotillard as Miranda Tate; and Matthew Modine, Tom Conti, Joey King, Brett Cullen, Chris Ellis, Daniel Sunjata, Diego Klattenhoff and Burn Gorman. Quite a lineup, and you know we’ll keep you posted (possibly in Superhero Bits) with any new pieces of info that come out. [Variety]

Briefly: The latest addition to Sam Raimi‘s soon-to-shoot Oz: The Great and Powerful is a slightly unexpected one. Zach Braff is finishing up his negotiations to join the film. He’ll play Frank, “the loyal but under-appreciated assistant to Oz (James Franco).” Oz is transported to the land of Oz (some name confusion there) when his hot-air balloon is blown off-course; we can expect that Frank is dutifully manning the fire, and probably gets the blame for the course mismanagement that lands Oz in Oz.

The cast also features Mila Kunis as the witch Theodora, and Michelle Williams and Rachel Weisz are finalizing talks to play her two sisters Glinda and Evanora. Joey King will play China Girl, to whom Oz becomes a sort of surrogate father after her family is wiped out by Evanora. Oz: The Great and Powerful starts shooting in Michigan in July; it is scheduled for release on March 8, 2013. [Deadline]

Jamie Chung has two big Legendary Pictures films behind her this year, Sucker Punch and The Hangover Part II, and now (probably not as a response) she’s going indie for the film Knife Fight. That’s the one starring Rob Lowe where he plays “a political crisis manager who specializes in playing hardball on behalf of scandal-plagued clients.” Jamie Chung will be his savvy assistant. Quite a few other people are in talks for roles, too: Julie Bowen, Connie Britton, Jennifer Morrison, Rebecca Mader and Titus Welliver. Bill Guttentag directs and co-wrote the script with Chris Lehane; the film will shoot next month in San Francisco, and a release is planned for October 2012, timed around the next US Presidential election.

Before Knife Fight makes it to theaters, Jamie Chung will be in Premium Rush, which stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt and was written and directed by David Koepp. [Variety]

After the break, Oz: The Great and Powerful and American Reunion get minor additions. Read More »

When Warner Bros. released a press release featuring the cast of Christopher Nolan‘s currently in production The Dark Knight Rises, we were all disappointed that no new names were included. Well just a day later, on the day that we’ve seen our first image from the film, three new cast members have emerged. According to Variety accomplished actor Matthew Modine, best known for playing the lead role in Stanley Kubrick’s Full Metal Jacket and Tom Conti, an Oscar-nominee for his role in the 1983 film Reuben, Reuben, who was recently seen in The Tempest, have both joined the film. In addition Joey King, an 11-year-old actress who starred in Ramona and Beezus as well as Battle: Los Angeles, has been cast. Of course, there’s no word on who each will be playing except that Modine’s character name is “Nixon.”

Feel free to speculate wildly after the jump. Thanks to Variety. Read More »

‘Crazy, Stupid Love’ Trailer

The last film by Glenn Ficarra and John Requa, I Love You, Phillip Morris, took quite a winding path to get to theaters in the US. But their follow-up, a romantic comedy called Crazy, Stupid, Love, was made with Warner Bros. and is already set to release this summer. The film stars Steve Carell as a 40-something guy whose relationship with his wife (Julianne Moore) disintegrates, leading him to seek image rehab advice from lothario Ryan Gosling.

The trailer is out now, and it lurks just after the break. Read More »

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