Sam Raimi’s Oz the Great and Powerful opens Friday and, so far, buzz has been generally good. The industry tracking has been even better, with some outlets projecting a near $100 million opening weekend. So it should come as no surprise that Disney has just signed Mitchell Kapner, who co-wrote the first film with David Lindsay-Abaire, to get to work on a sequel.  Read More »

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Oz the Great and Powerful, Sam Raimi‘s first Disney film, is oddly two-faced. Here we have a director who made his name with low budget horror, who became a household name when he infused the superhero genre with his do-it-yourself, energetic visual style. And then there’s Oz, a massive film that gives Raimi the most toys he’s ever had to play with, but also the commitment to make a movie that’s fun for all ages. The result is a Sam Raimi movie wrapped up tightly in a Disney package. And the Raimi elements are willing themselves out.

There’s not a frame of Oz The Great and Powerful that doesn’t bear Raimi’s mark. The production design, the camera moves, the pulpy performances, everything screams his name. I mean, the movie is basically Army of Darkness, right? (Normal guy lands in magical land, is forced to go on quest to save that land.) But just when you see that kinetic, signature style starting to unleash, the story forces the film back into its Disney shell to play to the masses. We’re left with a film that’s entertaining, a little scarier than you’d expect, but extremely inconsistent. Read More »

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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In all the times I’ve seen The Wizard of Oz, I’ve never one wondered how the wizard got there. Maybe that’s just me. Either way, the back story of the man behind the curtain who solves Dorothy and her friend’s problems is the topic of Oz the Great and Powerful, which will be director Sam Raimi’s next project. Besides the fact that Robert Downey Jr. is rumored to be attached to play the lead, we haven’t heard much about the film except that it’s a prequel to the 1939 classic and will be about the wizard coming to Oz. Well, a more detailed plot description has found its way online and I’m confident in saying this is not what anyone had in mind. Read it after the jump. Read More »

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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. Read More »

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Update: The LA Times mentions that another director who is a top candidate for the film is Adam Shankman (Bedtime Stories). So let that temper your excitement a bit, at least for now.

Guess this answers the question about what Sam Mendes is doing while EON Productions figures out the future of James Bond. While the director was hired as a ‘consultant’ on Bond 23 (supposedly a precursor to being the director of that film, but without MGM having to put out any money for him yet) the shelving of that movie leaves him free.

Now we hear he may direct a Wizard of Oz movie, Oz the Great and Powerful, with leading man Robert Downey, Jr. Talk about change-ups. What’s going on here? Read More »

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