In April we heard that Road to Perdition director Sam Mendes was in talks to direct Oz, The Great And Powerful. At the time it was said Robert Downey Jr. would play the Wizard who is “part of a traveling circus but goes on a similar odyssey as Dorothy when he mysteriously lands in Oz.” However, Mendes recently signed up to direct a stage musical version of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, most likely to keep himself busy until he can get started on Bond 23.
This means Disney are in search for another talented director to take us back to Oz, and Spider-Man director Sam Raimi may be their man.
Vulture has learned that Sam Raimi has been offered the director’s chair for Disney’s Oz, the Great and Powerful, a prequel to the 1939 MGM classic The Wizard of Oz. Sam Mendes and Adam Shankman had both been speculated as contenders for the job, but insiders tell us that Raimi received the official offer earlier this morning. The project is written by Mitchell Kapner (The Whole Nine Yards, Romeo Must Die), and Joe Roth — who, of course, used to run Disney’s studio back in the 1990s — is producing.
I guess only time will tell whether Raimi will accept the offer. A job opening recently appeared in Middle Earth which he may be interested in, and there is also the World of Warcraft movie which he is attached too.
Apparently Disney wants to start filming sometime this year which may rule Robert Downey Jr. out as the Wizard. He will be shooting Sherlock Holmes 2 towards the end of the year, and The Avengers is lined up for an early 2011 start.
It’s also worth noting that there are a few other Wizard of Oz films in development. Warner Bros. are currently deciding between two projects; one by the producers of Twilight which is “a comparatively faithful, non-musical adaptation of the original L. Frank Baum novel “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” and has franchise potential.
The second one, written by History of Violence screenwriter Josh Olson, is darker and focuses on the granddaughter of Dorothy who returns to Oz to fight evil. Universal also has the Oz-inspired musical Wicked in development.