A new take on the various L. Frank Baum books from which “The Wizard of Oz” tale was born will be explored by Warner Bros., according to Variety. Baum created a total of 15 stories that surround the Oz legacy.
Village Roadshow Pictures will team up with Warner Bros. by taking an idea hatched by Spawn creator Todd McFarlane and screenwriter Josh Olson. The former will produce while the latter will create a script.
This has been a project in the works for quite some time but now it can go full steam ahead since Warner purchased the rights to “Oz” from Ted Turner.
“McFarlane has a vision of Oz that is a dark, edgy and muscular PG-13, without a singing Munchkin in sight,” wrote journalist Michael Fleming. “That was clear with a toy line he launched several years ago that featured a buxom Dorothy and Toto re-imagined as an over-sized snarling warthog.
Olson’s vision is of a bit tamer PG movie and hopefully the two can find some middle ground of compromise that will please them both and not hurt the final product.
“I saw those toys, and Dorothy as some bondage queen isn’t something I want to do,” Olson told Fleming. “The appealing thing about the Baum books to me is how wildly imaginative they are. There are crazy characters from amazing places. I want this to be “Harry Potter” dark, not “Seven” dark.”
“My pitch was ‘How do we get people who went to “Lord of the Rings” to embrace this?’ ” McFarlane said. “I want to create [an interpretation] that has a 2007 wow factor. You’ve still got Dorothy trapped in an odd place, but she’s much closer to the Ripley from “Alien” than a helpless singing girl.”
This being said, Olson does suggest that they won’t be throwing the baby out with the bath water and whatever is finally decided on will take the classic Judy Garland movie into account on some level that might make this new one feel a bit like a sequel.
I wish I knew who to email in the studio to give them one simple request; please, please, please don’t use CGI – or at least minimize it to things that are impossible to do without. I loved the Oz books when I was a kid, and have always wanted a serious adaptation made. Considering how filled with fear Dorothy was (in the first book, anyway), a dark adaptation is perfect – though I would say “Mirrormask-dark” is a bit better.
The reason why I really hope they avoid CGI is simply because I want to be able to enjoy it 5 years after it’s come out. Even some of the current CGI-heavy movies like the LotR series fails the HDTV/Blu-ray test, and with a sharp eye you can spot the polygons. CGI effects also date quickly, and no matter how wonderful they look at first, they appear rubbish just a year later.
Jim Henson may be gone, but his monster lab is still around. Puppets and guys in suits can be successfully convincing – the Aliens (from Aliens) and many of the beasts from The Labyrinth are all beautifully done and completely successful. Go-motion has also been written off, though I daresay the battle on the ice planet Hoth from Star Wars episode 5 was and still is much better looking than the completely computer-made Naboo battle scene from ep1.
Their idea and vision sounds perfect. I just hope they don’t ruin it with the wrong effects department.
Sam Johnson says
What a rip-off! There’s this Hollywood film company called Alpine Pictures that has been in pre-production for over a year on an animated movie called “Dorothy Of Oz” based on L. Frank Baum’s great grandson’s books. Roger S. Baum wrote “Dorothy Of OZ” in the 1980s and it was a best-seller. Can’t Warner Brothers come up with a truly original idea on their own? Go to http://www.DorothyOfOzTheMovie.com and check it out yourself!
1) You’re right.
2) Not a chance in hell.
L Frank Baum died in 1919. His books are out of copyright, in public domain. Anyone can make movies based on the books. Turner doesn’t own “Oz”, he owns the 1939 movie version, that’s all.
I thought the scifi channel was already doing A Wizard of OZ remake.
Cheeseburger Brown says
Despite a certain unavoidable nausea when considering the reams of sequels and reimaginings we’ve been tossed lately, the idea of revisiting Baum’s universe has great appeal in my opinion.
The books were popular because of the fantastic scope of his imagination, coupled with the appropriately fun levels of anxiety experienced whenever the beloved characters were in jeopardy (a level of anxiety likely comparable with Harry Potter’s exploits). The sympathy we have for them is, in part, predicated on that unique mixture of wonder and fear.
McFarlane’s version sounds too out there to hit that mix, but perhaps appropriately tempered it may well make something worth seeing and — in competition to the 1939 film version — something worth remembering.
Ugh–can’t they just leave the classics alone? Why do the books have to be “reimagined”? They’re fine the way they are! Some things don’t have to be modernized, sheesh.
how about this revolutionary idea: come up with something original! writers are holding signs by the highway saying, “WILL WRITE AMAZING ORIGINAL MATERIAL FOR FOOD” and “EVERYTIME A WORK IS REMADE, AN ANGEL DIES”
Oscar Diggs says
Oh geez, I dreamed of these movies being made when I was a kid. This is terrific, IF it’s done right. Disney made a sequel along these lines in 1985, based on books 2 & 3 with elements of the MGM movie thrown in for familiarity. It failed at the box office for various reasons, but succeeded visually and in SF circles critically (and is a cult classic now). It was done with NO CGI, and worked very well. It was dark and more true to the books.
A correction though. Baum wrote 14 Oz novels and 6 short stories, and a few related items. After he died, Ruth Plumly Thomson wrote 18 (or 19) stories. Then a few others wrote 8 (or 13) more stories, which make up the “Famous Forty”, plus 6 more novels published elsewhere. Most of those later ones were illustrated by Eric Shanower, and then he wrote some of his own; I place his work equal with anything that came before.
Personally, Thomson’s first book, Royal Book of Oz wouldn’t be my choice to film. I’d like to see a later one of hers, Lost King of Oz (about Ozma’s father), but that’s me.
More about OZ at the International Wizard of Oz Club:
Current publisher of Shanower’s work:
(yes, I’m something of an Oz geek, but my kids have great memories of me reading the books to them)
phio gistic says
Ã¢â‚¬Å“McFarlane has a vision of Oz that is a dark, edgy and muscular PG-13, without a singing Munchkin in sight,Ã¢â‚¬Â wrote journalist Michael Fleming. Ã¢â‚¬Å“That was clear with a toy line he launched several years ago that featured a buxom Dorothy and Toto re-imagined as an over-sized snarling warthog.”
Horrors. It wasn’t a “buxom” Dorothy that McFarlane created, it was a grotesque female doll, breasts exposed, bound and tortured. Nothing to do with Oz, everything to do with McF’s personal perversions. Please don’t do this to Baum’s stories.
will they make all 15 into single movies? or one big movie?