L. Frank Baum biopic is in the works

New Line Cinema has reportedly purchased the rights to a script about the life of the 'Wizard of Oz' author.

Warner Bros./AP
'The Wizard of Oz' stars Bert Lahr (l.), Ray Bolger (second from l.), Judy Garland (second from r.), and Jack Haley (r.).

Will L. Frank Baum, the author behind “The Wizard of Oz,” be the subject of a biopic?

According to the Hollywood Reporter, New Line Cinema recently picked up a script by Josh Golden, which is currently titled “Road to Oz.” Beau Flynn, who produced such movies as the 2014 film “Hercules” and the 2013 movie “Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters,” is in board as a producer for the film. Other producers on the movie include Michael Mislove and Nellie Bellflower, both of whom Golden worked with on the script, according to the Hollywood Reporter. Bellflower was a producer for another children’s author biopic, the 2004 film “Finding Neverland,” which starred actor Johnny Depp as “Peter Pan” writer J.M. Barrie.

Baum’s most famous work, “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz,” was followed by various other “Oz” books, including “Ozma of Oz” and “The Emerald City of Oz.” He was also behind such works as the novel “The Magical Monarch of Mo” and “Sky Island.”

“Oz” also reportedly has a place among the books that were celebrated last week as part of Banned Books Week – the novel apparently ran afoul of the director of the Detroit Public Library, Ralph Ulveling, in 1957. According to an article that appeared in the Toledo Blade, “Oz” was banned in city libraries because “there is nothing uplifting or elevating about the series," Ulveling said. "[They have] no value.”

The movie based on “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz,” which was released in 1939, is of course still a film classic. The story was adapted as another musical, “The Wiz,” in 1978 in a film version that starred Diana Ross and Michael Jackson. And in 2013, a prequel to “Oz,” centering on the famous Wizard and titled “Oz the Great and Powerful,” was released. It starred James Franco, Mila Kunis, Rachel Weisz, and Michelle Williams. “Powerful” received less-than-positive reviews (it currently holds a score of 44 out of 100 on the review aggregator website Metacritic) but did well at the box office, earning more than $234 million domestically, according to the website Box Office Mojo.

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