Disney Gambles on Box-Office Wizardry of ‘Oz’ – NYTimes.com

The Wizard of Oz

No movie studio would have the nerve to remake “The Wizard of Oz,” the beloved 1939 musical ranked by the Library of Congress as the most-watched film in history. But “Oz the Great and Powerful,” a Disney-produced prequel, is nearly as intrepid. The company is betting that a new twist on a story moviegoers already love will result in a hit on par with “Alice in Wonderland,” which took in more than $1 billion in 2010.

It’s a breathtaking gamble. “Oz,” at turns goofy and dark (and not a musical), cost about $325 million to make and market, according to people who worked on the movie who spoke on the condition of anonymity to avoid conflict with Disney. Mr. Franco has never anchored a mainstream movie before. Because of copyright constraints Disney was not able to reproduce certain iconic imagery from the “The Wizard of Oz,” which is owned by Warner Brothers.

via Disney Gambles on Box-Office Wizardry of ‘Oz’ – NYTimes.com.

(And yes, I’m still taking a short break from blogging… But, this I wanted to share. Two things I like about Sam Raimi, the fact he always wears a jacket and tie on set, and an oft used phrase of his, “be bold.”)

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  1. George Kaplan
    March 4, 2013

    I’ve a lot of time for Raimi (as I have for Joe Dante, if you’ve never seen Dante’s Matinee I’d recommend it, it’s his sweetest movie set during the Cuban Missile Crisis and it’s about love of cinema – even the gimmicky “trashy” William Castleesque stuff- and coming-of-age), and I really like the suit-wearing as well! Oz could go either way but surely it has to be better than the Burton/Depp Alice in Wonderland which was terrible (Burton has not – Sweeney Todd partially excepted – made anything worthwhile since pre-Planet of the Apes – featuring Eace-like-a-fist Wahlberg – while Depp has become immensely annoying, a long way from Edward Scissorhands and Ed Wood)? Unfortunately it’s not going to have anything in it as heart-stopping as Judy Garland singing Somewhere Over the Rainbow, as amusing as Bert Lahr’s Cowardly Lion, or as memorablely weird as the flying monkeys’ first appearance. Now, if you’ll excuse me I’m off to sing “We’re Off To See the Wizard”! ($325 million? Holy Moly!”

    • March 4, 2013

      Heavens to Betsy! Now, this is why I wrote a roman à clef and have a blog about Old Hollywood, mostly. You are trying to lead me into territory where I can neither confirm nor deny. I can tell you a couple of things, Raimi didn’t want his movie to become a CGI-fest, Robert Stromberg, the production designer designed huge sets (minimizing green screen shooting) and props were manufactured instead of computer generated. Second fact… “Somewhere Over The Rainbow” was the very first piano piece I learned. And, now my lips are sealed, somewhat… Okay, third thing, I direct your attention to a true story you might enjoy http://vickielester.com/2012/06/23/death-takes-a-holiday-or-my-favorite-hollywood-dinner-party and now I’m outta here!

  2. March 4, 2013

    But… but.. but…
    Well apart from anything else wasn’t it Disney that made ‘Return to Oz’… my didn’t that just turn out so well.
    Though I must extend best wishes to anyone who maintains a smart appearance on set.
    Yours truly ever
    The Perfumed Dandy

    • March 4, 2013

      Mr. Raimi is definitely worthy of your good wishes – he’s an exceptional egg! I have to pop over to your blog soon and see what’s new…
      I like to save it for the end of the day because it’s kind of like opening a present.
      Merci beaucoup,

  3. March 4, 2013

    I read this article earlier today. It is a big gamble, but I do have some faith with Sam Raimi. And I’ll be at El Capitan come Thursday the 7th for a sneak peak with family. Keeping my fingers crossed. Thanks, Vickie.

    • March 4, 2013

      I love the El Capitan! Disney used to hand out (in the 1990s) a book to screenwriters – I think it was called something like the Hero’s Journey, or, The Writers Journey – all I remember is that it heavily referenced Joseph Campbell and The Wizard of Oz. Have a great time and please report back. Cheers, V

  4. March 4, 2013

    Let’s hope it’s nothing like that garish “Alice and Wonderland.” Awful. I don’t know if I would have cast James Franco as Oz…? (Though I do find him likable and talented when he’s in the right role.) I’m sure it will do well at the box office, most Disney films of this magnitude do, but that doesn’t necessarily speak to the quality, which remains to be seen.

    • March 5, 2013

      Agreed! I thought it was woefully garish too. Simply did not get what all the fuss what about.

  5. March 4, 2013

    True confession, I never saw “Alice in Wonderland” because I was afraid it would be too garish for me… In the early stages Robert Downey Jr. was going to play the Wizard and then I remember all of a sudden it was James Franco. In the paper this weekend it was reported Downey’s style was too extemporaneous for Sam. I hope this hits for Franco. I like that he went back to school to get a graduate degree in creative writing and he really does things out of the box, which I hope serves him well in this role. We’ll see! xox, V

  6. George Kaplan
    March 4, 2013

    Oh, Vickie Lester, you altogether too perfectly fascinating (or perfect and fascinating)! You have now intrigued me muchly… “You are trying to lead me into territory where I can neither confirm or deny”, verrry in-der-esting… Of course, innocent little me would never do *that*… Heh. Mysteriouser and mysteriouser. Certainly it’s cheering to hear that Messrs Raimi and Stromberg wanted to go in a more practical less CGI-heavy direction and it’s pretty interesting to see the trailer and read some of the early reviews talking of overfamiliar CG schmeer. Mmm. Can I spell (or, indeed, smell) S-t-u-d-i-o I-n-t-e-r-f-e-r-e-n-ce? Or am I wrong to infer that? I know, you can’t say! Oh, I *love* this stuff, if I didn’t already adore you (ahem, you know what I mean:)), your knowledge, and your work I would now. It must be great knowing you, not only do you have a quicksilver mind and wit but you’re full of secrets! (a Twin Peaks reference for no reason there, tho’ maybe Mulholland Drive would be more appropriate). No, I never am knowingly understated, am I? I’m poring over your comment like a talmudic scholar trying to divine truth and decrypt the implications (using my second-hand knowledge of the industry). You’re entirely fascinating and now I’m really frustrated. Ha.
    Somewhere Over the Rainbow your first piano piece? Really, V, that’s too beautiful and perfect. Heck, I’ve gushed enough but… Wow, the best part of the day for me was reading this. Hope you’re rested, Admiring R.
    P. S. Sorry for the typos above, I’m still groggy.

    • March 5, 2013

      Ms. Fascination is rockin’ a 101 degree fever. I’ll send you the links to some other true stories buried in here when I feel better. Lots of non-bacterial computer felicitations, V

  7. March 4, 2013

    Well since as you well know my Great Great Uncle Jarrett was the real Wizard of Oz I am anxious to see how this story turns out.

    • March 5, 2013

      Those green skies lowering over Uncle Jarrett, zowie. And then there was a green tinted pic in the NY Times yesterday and then I came across this… I am feelin’ punk so more later. Love, V

  8. George Kaplan
    March 4, 2013

    That should read “Oh, Vickie Lester you *are* altogether too perfectly fascinating(…)”. And it should probably be “all together” Sheesh. I’m so anal. I’m going now…promise… Hugs from here.

  9. March 5, 2013

    Your (evanescent) return brings a wisp of splendour and elegance to my world.

    Very much looking forward to this film; how I wish we could watch it together.

    Love, pearls, and chartreuse from the Empire,

    A xoxo

    • March 5, 2013

      Hello Delight, I’d take that Chatreuse but it would interfere with my antibiotics. I’ll certainly be non-contagious by Friday, but I don’t know how splendid or elegant I’ll be for my meeting 😉
      Right now I’m reading that short little book about Byron, but mostly I’m dozing.

  10. George Kaplan
    March 5, 2013

    V, sorry to hear you’re feelin’ oogy “Ms Fascination”. I don’t doubt you even fever elegantly but thankfully you’ll soon chase those nasty bacteria away… Rest your weary head and get well , sweetness, R. X

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