We've been feeding you regular updates on the Disney prequel to Frank L. Baum's beloved children's book 'The Wizard of Oz', which was first adaped for the screen in 1939. Oz: The Great and Powerful will be directed by Sam Raimi, who is known best for the 'Evil Dead' trilogy, the 'Spiderman' films and 'Drag Me To Hell'. The film is currently in pre-production, set to start filming in July this year, and just today Disney have announced March 8th 2013 as the general release date for the film. If that sticks, Oz: the Great and Powerful will be competing with Neill'District 9' Blomkamp's next sci-fi flick 'Elysium'.
Before I give a plot synopsis, allow me to warn you that the entire premise of Oz: The Great and Powerful is one massive spoiler for the end of 'The Wizard of Oz'. If you haven't read the book or seen the film then I highly recommend that you stop reading this article now and go and pick up either the screen or the paper version of the story, whichever's closest, because it's a great ending.
Are they gone? Good.
James Franco ('Howl', 'Spiderman 1-3', '127 Hours) plays a sham magician from our own universe whose hot air balloon gets blown wildly off course and ends up in the Land of Oz. After seeing some of his magic tricks the citizens of Oz hail him as a true wizard cum messiah and task him with ridding the land of a wicked witch, who unfortunately will probably not be played by Idina Menzel. Current actresses in talks for the three witch roles are Michelle Williams, Rachel Weisz and Mila Kunis.
With Raimi's long and successful history with horror films, I'm hoping Oz: The Great and Powerful will have a similar tone to the utterly nightmarish sequel 'Return to Oz' (pictured), one of the many films that traumatised me as a child. It's brilliant though, and something you might want to watch in the two-year wait for the release of Raimi's film.
Hannah Shaw-Williams blogs at Film Shaft.
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