Saturday, May 22, 2010

Robert and Boorman and Drew! Oh My!

Jose here.

Was Dorothy (Judy Garland) lying to us when she told us there's no place like home in The Wizard of Oz?

Judging from the way movie people are flocking back to Oz, it seems the little girl from Kansas might've missed something in her first trip.

As of today there are six, count them, films in development that have something to do with Frank L. Baum's timeless classic or the Victor Fleming film adaptation and that's not even including the much awaited stage to screen translation of Broadway blockbuster Wicked.

Everyone wants a piece of Oz and projects in development have attracted the attention of people like Drew Barrymore, Sean Astin and even the guy who made Deliverance.
But before we surrender to confusion let's go through each of the projects.

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
Set for release in 2011, this CGI adaptation of the original book will mark director John Boorman's first foray into animation.
Call me morbid but I'm really dying to see what the man who made The Exorcist II brings to Oz. Boorman has a great eye for set pieces and his interest in fantasy is notable (to a good effect in Excalibur and to WTF in Zardoz, which coincidentally got its title from the wizard) and besides what is Deliverance if not a violent, testosterone driven interpretation of the Oz mythology? Sans flying monkeys of course.

Dark Oz
Based on a comic book the film is set to be directed by Pearry Teo and will star Pras Micheal of The Fugees.
While this one sounds interesting to say the least, I was left more intrigued by one of the comic book tie-ins called Oz Squad which has Dorothy, the Scarecrow, the Tin Man and the Cowardly Lion form a secret organization appropriately named the "Gale Force" created to protect Emerald City.
I'm usually a purist when it comes to things like these but the fact that the comic book outraged Baum scholars and has only now resurfaced as a groundbreaking work makes it sound quite enticing.
My only objection? An element in the plot called the Tik-Tok, which would make a Ke$ha appearance almost inevitable.

Surrender Dorothy
The lovely Drew Barrymore (left in all her emerald colored glory from Whip It) is set to direct this sequel from a screenplay by Zach Helm (Stranger Than Fiction). In the story, Dorothy's great great granddaughter must learn to use the ruby slippers to prevent the Wicked Witch of the West from taking over Oz.
Originally Drew was set to play Dorothy but with the screenplay in development limbo for almost a decade, the now obviously older actress might just want to stick to behind the camera duties.

Dorothy of Oz

Another CGI version, this one is based on a book by Baum's great grandson Roger S. Baum and is directed by Dan St. Pierre (who served as art director for Disney's Tarzan).
In the plot Dorothy (rumored to be voiced by Lea Michele) is sent back to Oz right after her first trip where she meets a man made out of marshmallows and a china doll.
This one is also set for release in 2011.

The Witches of Oz
The official synopsis reads:
The Witches of Oz follows the exploits of the grown Dorothy Gale, now a successful children's book author, as she moves from Kansas to present day New York City. Dorothy quickly learns that her popular books are based on repressed childhood memories, and that the wonders of Oz are very, very real. When the Wicked Witch of the West shows up in Times Square, Dorothy must find the inner courage to stop her.

Sean Astin, Ethan Embry and Lance Henriksen star.
For clips, photo source and more information about this film click here.

The Great Powerful
If you've just had enough of Dorothy, this might be the film for you.
Instead of focusing on the heroine this one is more interested in the man behind the curtain.
This film will tell the tale of the wizard's life and how he ended in Oz. Robert Downey Jr. is set to play him and when you read sources describing the wiz as a man "leading a life of charlatanry" who sounds more appropriate to play the part?
The film might be directed by Adam Shankman (hmmm) or Sam Mendes (yay and hmmm).

And yes, no news on a big screen adaptation of Wicked yet (other than the one already being filmed inside my head with Anne Hathaway and Reese Witherspoon in the lead roles).

So what's your take on all this? Are you faithful to Judy Garland or are you willing to see other Dorothys? Do you think there's something as too much Oz or is this making you salivate?


jimmy said...

movie version of "wicked"?

Even Bears Fall in Love with Wizards said...

Nat, are you going to write tomorrow something special aboout LOST's finale?

Anonymous said...

personally, i think this is absolutely horrifying. Wizard of Oz should be untouchable, as it is both one of the greatest films ever made, a true example of hollywood teamwork, well, working like a team ( and making a case for anti-autuerist everywhere ), and finally, American Myth.

How bout next we set about systematically remaking John Ford movies, and maybe, IDK, a movie depicting Micheal Corleone fighting the Germans. GENUIS!!!

Kurtis O said...

First of all, I'm pretty flabbergasted by just how many Oz flicks are in development, but what I really wanted to express is that my film version of "Wicked" stars none other than Lea Michele and Amanda Seyfried. I actually had a dream about it.
...And now Idina Menzel is Lea's mother on "Glee!" It was written in the stars! Or, better yet, in the clouds! With the jet stream of a brommstick! ...Okay, sorry about that last part.

Luis said...

I wonder why after these news arrived this week, nobody mentions that the sequel happened already, starring a baby Fairuza Balk and achieving an Academy Award nomination back in 85

Joel said...

Ill just stick to Return To Oz thanks.


jimmy -- as Jose said still no news on that front

even bears -- i've never seen Lost beyond the pilot episode so, no.

anon -- well as long as they aren't remaking it. i mean it is based on books so there's no reason why there can't be other types of adaptations. but yes. i too wish we would view the classics with more hands off respect.

one has to think that all of this excitement has to do with what a cash cow WICKED has been. So it's so weird that that's not the movie on the fast track.

Andrew David said...

None of them sound HORRIBLE on their own, but reading them all next to one another is so depressing... I can't say I want to see any of them.

I would far prefer to see a miniseries adaptation of the "Wicked" novel... not so fussed with seeing the musical on film, but the novel would adapt really well to an HBO miniseries...

Walter L. Hollmann said...

These are times when I'm irritated for being such a devoted fan of the movies. I know I'm probably going to see all of these, plus Wicked, because they are automatically connected to the Hollywood Lore that is The Wizard of Oz. It's an obligation, really, and that irritates me because - don't throw stones - I hate The Wizard of Oz.

sp said...

Nathaniel , I agree Anne Hathaway should star in "Wicked" but instead of Reese Witherspoon, what about a blonde Evan Rachel Wood. Lea Michelle shouldn't do another musical because she is already type-casted as a musical diva on "Glee".

Jason H. said...

Nathaniel, the Wicked in your head needs to be made. Right. Now.

CHris na Taraja said...

I'm open to seeing a new twist on the old story, or even some of the other Baum books made into films, but most of the OZ films have been crap...especially that last Sci fi version "TIN MAN"


SP - i firmly believe that Lea Michelle should do a musical! because as i've been saying for years... the musical will only truly be "back" when it makes stars again. it used to be no shame but glory to specialize in that genre ;)

the man behind -- if only i were a director and had hundreds of millions to play with