robert downey johnny depp oz Downey Jr. Out of ‘Oz: The Great and Powerful’; Depp May Replace

Despite the fact that Sam Raimi officially signed on to direct Oz: The Great and Powerful—a prequel of sorts to The Wizard of Oz—way back in October (and had been circling the job since as early as June), very little official headway has been made on the project in the months since.

Now, the assumed star of the film, Robert Downey Jr., has dropped out of the running as the titular wizard. Disney, which has already begun pre-production on Oz, courtesy of Joe Roth, is looking to replace Downey as soon as possible – with none other than Johnny Depp. You know, that one guy who was in all those pirate movies?

The question of whether or not Depp will be able to take on the role of Oz depends entirely upon whether or not his schedule allows for it. See, Disney also wants Johnny Depp to star – or co-star? – in Gore Verbinski’s Lone Ranger as Tonto, but committing to Oz means, at the very least, postponing the former project. Does Gore Verbinski want to wait that long? Or does he have better things to do? Think about it, Gore. Think hard.

Then there’s the fact that Depp is set to star in his best friend Tim Burton’s cinematic adaptation of the hilariously cheesy “horror soap opera” of the 1960s known as Dark Shadows, which begins filming this spring. That’s a lot of big movies to be signed onto all at once, if indeed Depp decides to sign on for Oz.

Check out plot details for Oz: The Great and Powerful below:

The Wizard — a snake-oil salesman posing as a magician — enters Oz via a hot-air balloon, which he uses to escape an angry husband who has found out that Oz slept with his wife. There, Oz — a fast-talking huckster who wears a velveteen frock coat…falls in love with Glinda (the Good Witch), and the two combine forces to Fight the Evil Witches Evanora and Theodora. Theodora starts out as a good witch, but after Oz jilts her sexual advances, Evanora — the truly evil witch — convinces Theodora to become an evil witch with her and help her to rule all of Oz. Both Evanora and Theodora are described as incredibly attractive, seductive women, and Theodora likes to wear black, thigh-high boots…

Black, thigh-high boots — the mark of the witch! Good to know.

johnny depp as oz the great and powerful Downey Jr. Out of ‘Oz: The Great and Powerful’; Depp May Replace

Am I the only person who’s just plain bored by Johnny Depp playing zany, hijinks-heavy funnyman after funnyman after funnyman? Where’s the Depp of old who refused to take the movie roles that were merely a means to a money-making end? Sure, I’ve enjoyed zany Depp from time to time (Ed Wood, Ichabod Crane, Jack Sparrow, a couple others), but for once, I just want to see somebody else – somebody besides Johnny Depp and Robert Downey Jr. – play funny, offbeat leading men. Somebody? Anybody? Please?

There’s no official start date for Oz: The Great and Powerful as of yet, but Sam Raimi and Disney are hoping to begin during the second half of 2011.

Source: The Hollywood Reporter