Despite generally tepid reviews, Oz the Great and Powerful continues to draw in audiences worldwide for a current gross of almost $300 million. This bona fide commercial success puts Oz director Sam Raimi back in position as one of Hollywood’s major figures, just over a decade after his adaptation of Spider-Man took the world by storm.
Oz‘s success puts Raimi in the enviable position of likely being able to pick and choose his next directorial project. Oddly enough, it looks like the next work benefiting from Raimi’s quirky eye will not be either an Oz sequel or the long-awaited Evil Dead 4/Army of Darkness 2 – instead, he will be stepping behind the camera for the pilot episode of Rake, an upcoming legal television series.
Deadline reports that Sam Raimi has agreed to direct the first, hour-long episode of Rake for Fox. The legal dramedy will star Greg Kinnear (Movie 43) alongside Miranda Otto (the as-yet-unproduced Locke & Key pilot), John Ortiz (Silver Linings Playbook), and Bojana Novakovic (Drag Me to Hell). This will be the first episode of television that Raimi has directed (although he has written and produced many series).
Rake will be adapted from an Australian series of the same name, which stars Richard Roxburgh (Sanctum). The story follows the slightly unhinged career of Keegan Joye (Kinnear), a defense attorney who speaks his mind even when it’s imperative that he doesn’t. A huge hit in its native country, the American production of Rake is backed by the original series’ producer Ian Collie (Australia on Trial) and Roxburgh himself.
The acquisition of Raimi as director for Rake‘s pilot is a rather spectacular coup. Not only does Raimi’s name bring multi-blockbuster prestige, the director’s signature stylistic flare could lend Rake‘s opening with an energy rarely seen in televised legal dramas. This also bodes well for the show’s script – if a man with as much clout as Raimi agreed to direct the teleplay even after the considerable success of Oz the Great and Powerful, the material must be fairly compelling.
One must ask whether – name recognition aside – Raimi is the right man to direct a televised courtroom dramedy. After all, he’s made his bones almost entirely through the fantastical – from the grimy amateur gore of The Evil Dead through the superhero thrills of his Spider-Man trilogy. This may not be much of a problem. Though known almost exclusively for his over-the-top genre work, Raimi has dabbled in more down-to-earth fare. In the critically-lauded 1998 film A Simple Plan, Raimi managed to make a crime movie about three hapless blue-collar slobs that was at once incredibly tense and stylistically subdued.
The real question will thus be whether Rake will remain a worthwhile television series after Raimi departs its director’s chair. Hopefully, the show’s cast and concept are strong enough to justify bringing in a big-name feature film director to start them on their journey.
Rake will premiere on Fox late in 2013.