When people think of The Wizard of Oz, they think of the 1939 film starring Judy Garland. Yellow brick roads, munchkins, ruby slippers, the wicked witch, all that stuff. Fast forward about 75 years and Disney releases Oz the Great and Powerful, a prequel that features iconography very similar to, but not exactly the same, as the famous film. The reason? Warner Bros. owns the rights to the 1939 classic, but not the L. Frank Baum book it’s based on, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Sam Raimi and his team were very careful not to use any of Warner Bros.’ intellectual property, going so far as having lawyers present during production to make sure they didn’t cross the line. So there are no ruby slippers, the witch isn’t the same color green, the Emerald City looks different, etc. It’s close, but just different enough to avoid a lawsuit.

On its opening weekend, Disney and Raimi’s gamble paid off, grossing an impressive $80 million and work on a sequel has begun. The cash is rolling in for the Mouse House much to the chagrin of Warner Bros., who rightfully feels a certain ownership to the property.

The Los Angeles Times has a fascinating article on how the success of Oz will not only help Disney, but set up a major rivalry between them and Warners who has several Oz related projects in the pipeline including multiple movies at various stages of development. Read More »

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Wizard of Oz

Pajiba is reporting that Drew Barrymore has resurrected Surrender Dorothy for a possible follow-up to her directorial debut Whip It. This Wizard of Oz sequel was first announced in 2002 with a script by hot shot Zach Helm (who has become known as the mainstream version of Charlie Kaufman, with Stranger Than Fiction and Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium) and with Barrymore originally set to star.  The project has been in development since 1999, with producer Robert Kosberg (12 Monkeys).

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