Oz: The Great and Powerful isn’t just walking the yellow brick road — it’s walking a delicate line.
Playing off a beloved, classic movie is a dangerous game. On one hand, you’ve got a built-in audience who cares deeply about the original. On the other, those fans are even quicker to turn on you if they feel the new film doesn’t live up the one they’re so passionate about.
The teaser footage revealed at Disney’s D23 fan gathering begins “Before a house fell out of the sky… ” and it seems to mirror 1939’s The Wizard of Oz in multiple ways, not the least of which is the apparent use of grainy black-and-white film stock for the bookending “real world” scenes of James Franco’s young would-be wizard.
Sam Raimi’s movie, which started shooting in soundstages in Detroit on July 21, and is aiming for a March 2013 debut, is clearly trying to draw on fond memories of Judy Garland’s film version of Frank L. Baum’s fantasy story, while also trying to leapfrog it with a prequel story.
“While there have been movies and stage plays based on the series, one story has been left untold,” Sean Bailey, Disney’s head of production, told the crowd. “Who is the wizard and where did he come from?”
Or as Franco paradoxically put it: “We’re stepping into a great tradition, but a tradition that isn’t fully established yet.”
While the images and footage haven’t been released, here’s what those of us at the presentation saw …
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