Whenever a studio attempts to reboot or revisit a beloved classic, there’s always some trepidation on the part of audiences, actors, and filmmakers. After all, no one wants to see a pale imitation of a masterpiece. But from the studio’s perspective, rebooting an already recognizable film usually means there’s a built-in audience ready to fork over some dough.

In the case of Oz the Great and Powerful, the stakes are even higher. The Wizard of Oz is not just a classic, it’s a film considered by many to be one of the greatest movies ever made. Disney isn’t worried about failure, though. In fact, the studio is so confident that moviegoers will embrace the pseudo-prequel that it already has a sequel in the works.

Variety is reporting Disney commissioned Oz the Great and Powerful co-writer Mitchell Kapner to pen the sequel several months ago. There are no plot details at the moment, but Kapner will have free reign to pull any inspiration from Frank Baum’s novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. However, he will not be able to draw from any of the unique elements of The Wizard of Oz’s, as Warner Bros. owns the rights to the 1939 film.

Disney didn’t comment on specific sequel plans, but the fact that the studio already has a writer drafting a script – who is one of two writers responsible for the film hitting theaters this weekend – shows that it’s probably confident it has a winner on its hands. And with Sam Raimi at the helm and likable stars such as Mila Kunis and James Franco leading the way, why shouldn’t it be?

Disney has to also be licking its chops when looking at the relatively weak competition Oz will be up against during its opening weekend. Dead Man Down is the only other new film opening wide this weekend and holdovers such as Jack the Giant Slayer, 21 and Over and Identity Thief should see business slowing down. Considering all the factors, Oz the Great and Powerful is expected to reel in $80 million in its first weekend.

Since Oz had a $200 million budget, the studio definitely needs to see it do well, but if it hits slightly below that projection, don’t expect Disney to hit the panic button and abort the plan for a sequel. Now, if it hits way below that mark, then Mickey Mouse and Co. might need to start worrying.

Be sure to check out Oz the Great and Powerful when it hits theaters on Friday March 8th, 2013.

Source: Variety