James Franco Is ‘Oz, the Great and Powerful’

Published 3 years ago by , Updated August 24th, 2013 at 10:54 am,

Director Sam Raimi has at last found his Oz, the Great and Powerful, and it’s neither Robert Downey Jr. or Johnny Depp – rather, it’s his Spider-Man trilogy star (and all-around busy man) James Franco.

Franco emerged as a contender to headline Raimi’s spin on The Wizard of Oz just a few weeks ago, but he’s been in a news a lot of late, between rumors about him starring in Akira and a Linda Lovelace biopic. That’s not to mention that he’ll be co-hosting the 2011 Academy Awards ceremony this Sunday.

Deadline says that Franco has at last nailed down his acting schedule for 2011 by signing on the dotted line for Oz, the Great and Powerful. He’ll begin work soon with indie director Noah Baumbach on While We’re Young before setting off to appear in Oz this summer – and then moving onto Broadway to star alongside Nicole Kidman in a revival of Sweet Bird of Youth in the fall. Presumably, that means Franco’s plans to shoot As I Lay Dying this summer are essentially kaputt at this point.

Disney is the financial force behind Oz, the Great and Powerful, and has apparently been struggling to reduce the budget for the project down to a “mere” $200 million. Apparently the company is planning for Raimi to create immensely elaborate (and given the director’s style, probably mildly twisted) versions of colorful locales like the Emerald City and Munchkinland. Is it fair to say the Mouse House has let the $1 billion worldwide gross of last year’s Alice in Wonderland go to its head?

Alice producer Joe Roth is also working behind the scenes on Disney’s new Oz movie. Similar to how last year’s Wonderland flick featured an older (relatively speaking) version of its title character, who sets out on a new adventure in her respective fantasy land, Raimi’s Oz flick picks up with Franco’s character prior to his days residing as a fake wizard somewhere over the rainbow.

It turns out the fellow was a womanizing shuckster whose scandalous ways forced him to flee the everyday world in a hot air balloon and travel to Oz. There he causes even more trouble by getting involved with a handful of sensuous sorceresses, one of which may be played by Mila Kunis (it seems she’s done “bewitching” Natalie Portman).

These are all only rumored plot elements at this point, and surprisingly risque ones at that, considering that Disney is the one releasing Oz, the Great and Powerful. The company is presumably assuming that the movie’s success will have more to do with moviegoer’s good will towards The Wizard of Oz, and not rest so much on the shoulders of its male star and director. That’s not meant as a cheap shot at Franco and Raimi – there’s just no denying that they aren’t as bankable a pairing as Tim Burton and Johnny Depp.

Alice in Wonderland James Franco Is Oz, the Great and Powerful

The success of Alice in Wonderland is in part to blame responsible for all these literary re-envisionings and retold fairy tale movies coming out over the next couple of years. It’s arguably a better trend than the wave of Hollywood’s reboots and remakes that’ll be arriving in the near future, but how much better is up for debate.

How does Oz, the Great and Powerful sound now that Franco is a lock to star?

Source: Deadline

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TAGS: the great and powerful oz, the wizard of oz

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  1. When I heard that RDJ was not doing this and Depp might replace him,
    I lost interest in this film,but I might see it now.

    • Johnny Depp is the only actor in the business that could possibly pull off this role. Oh well, 2nd rate actors have to make a living too I suppose.

  2. This is all great and everything, but… wasn’t the story of The Wizard of Oz just a dream? Why is there a prequel inside of the dream?

  3. interesting. i hope it doesn’t take it’s cues from alice though…

  4. Inception meets Oz…..through the wizrds eyes, please more action in this than Alice in wonderland!!. More effects like Avatar.

  5. Oz, in the movie was a dream. In the book, it was real. Unfortunately, as we all know, movies never get the book right.

    • Thanks for the clarification, GJP. So I guess this will be a sequel to the book rather than the version that most people are familiar with.

  6. EPIC FAIL.

  7. I did not like the new Alice in Wonderland. I dunno, it was just weird. They could have made it better.
    The thing with Franco is hi brings in this credibility in every movie he works. even the cameos he’s done are always awesome. I’ll watch Oz for him if not anything else.

  8. Anyone here ever heard of the play “Wicked”? It was brilliant simply because it expanded the depth of certain Oz characters and made you look at the movie “The Wizard of Oz” in a different way. I’m actually looking forward to the strong possiblity that this movie will be good, interesting, and fun. Come on, it’s Sam Raimi! The only sub-par film that he’s done in the past decade was Spiderman 3, and I blame the studio for that one! He has a solid body of work, James Franco deserves the success that he’s finding right now, and I’m willing to give this a chance. Why do so many people jump to the “It’s gonna suck!” conclusion so quickly? If something doesn’t suit your taste, don’t see it. Find something else. But do you have to complain about it all of the time? Yeah, yeah, free country, freedom of speech, I get it. But criticizing an idea or a rumor months or years before a product is finished just gets tired and old. Just my thought, but I’m willing to give this a chance. I’m willing to give all of the new superhero movies a chance. And I’m willing to keep an open mind until I see the finished product. Then I can complain about it! :)

  9. Franco just won an Independent Spirit Award for 127 Hours.

  10. It’s funny how hollywood works. Franco was dissing Depp when Franco couldn’t get gigs in hollywood, and now he’s able to pick up Depp’s leftovers. Instead of feeling thankful for getting Depps scraps, he still slams Depp every chance he gets. That’s gratitude for you.