Raimi Directing ‘Oz’; Script Being Rewritten & Downey Likely To Star

Published 5 years ago by , Updated August 9th, 2013 at 11:57 pm,

Back in June we reported on the news that former Spider-Man director Sam Raimi had officially signed on to direct Oz: The Great and Powerful, a prequel to the classic Wizard of Oz story. The question was whether Raimi would direct Oz next since he’s attached to several other projects, including a live-action adaptation of The Shadow as well as the long-gestating World of Warcraft movie.

However, those looking forward to getting a Rami-directed Oz movie sooner rather than later can breathe a sigh of relief as Deadline is now reporting that Raimi has committed to that film as his next directing project.

Oz: The Great and Powerful will mark the first film Raimi has directed since Sony announced the reboot of the Spider-Man franchise without Raimi behind the camera or franchise star Tobey Maguire in the blue and red webbed suit. Raimi snagged the Oz gig after many other well-known directors were attached, including Sam Mendes, Timur Bekmambetov (Wanted) and Guillermo del Toro.

The original Oz: The Great and Powerful script was written by Mitchell Kapner (The Whole Nine Yards) but will be rewritten by David Lindsay-Abaire, who recently adapted his Pulitzer Prize-winning play Rabbit Hole into a feature film script. Rabbit Hole was acquired by Lionsgate at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival and is now garnering Oscar buzz, particularly for star Nicole Kidman.

Interestingly, Abaire was also one of the writers working closely with Raimi on Spider-Man 4 before the director walked away from the franchise, leading to Sony giving it the now-popular reboot treatment. Perhaps Raimi had something to do with Abaire being given the task of rewriting Oz(?).

Robert Downey Jr.

In other Oz news, it’s looking very likely Robert Downey Jr. will star in the film after all, even after he turned down numerous approaches to star in it before. He was apparently “so-so” on the project but it appears Raimi officially signing on and making it a priority has warmed Downey Jr. up to the film quite a lot. Downey Jr. isn’t exactly hurting in the popularity department (anymore) so it wouldn’t be a total shock if he passed on Oz to do other things, but all signs point to him doing it at this point.

Wizard of Oz prequel Robert Downey Jr Raimi Directing Oz; Script Being Rewritten & Downey Likely To Star

Since L. Frank Baum’s original Oz stories are public domain – i.e. anyone can adapt them – it’s understandable that there are a few adaptations in the works. However, Raimi’s looks to be the first one out of the gate as Universal’s big-screen adaptation of the Wicked musical is currently in the formative stages, while Warner Bros./New Line’s version recently received a setback when Guillermo del Toro chose to do At the Mountains of Madness instead.

Raimi’s Oz prequel sounds like the most interesting version that’s currently in the works. In case you don’t know, The Great and Powerful tells the tale of the Wizard when he arrives (accidentally) in Oz. He’s a womanizing con artist who is mistaken for a wizard but he plays along with the misconception in order to reap all the benefits. However, he soon gets thrown into a “civil war” between a royal family of three young women who end up turning into witches – two evil and one good.

Hopefully Raimi can take that darker Oz story and make it fun and accessible while still honoring the source material, in the same way he did with the Spider-Man movies. Hopefully he doesn’t pull another Spider-Man 3 and go too dark, though icon razz Raimi Directing Oz; Script Being Rewritten & Downey Likely To Star .

Oz: The Great and Powerful already has a production start date of June 2011 with a release date TBA (although IMDB lists it as a 2013 movie).

Source: Deadline

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  1. ugh..still no ED4..wtf Raimi

    • ya kno thinking about it downey jr might make a good replacement for bruce as ash like if he was to add more attitude to his performance like less iron man more ash i think he could pull it off

  2. RDJ stopped the filming on Holmes 2 today because wait for it… He had a cold. I like the guy, but come one. Grow a pair!

    After 2 piss poor Spiderman movies and the traversty that was Drag Me To Hell, Sam Raimi is officially a non entity to me.

    • he’s dead to me until he makes ED4 Sam. and a COLD?? good lord what a prima donna he’s become, hopefully Guy slaps a fine on him lol.

      • I was thinking along the prima donna line to, but it doesnt seem like RDJ at all, maybe super success has changed him.

        • LOL i have a cold and IM going to work jeeesh….

          • thats unsanitary considering youre working at a theater, behind the counters handling foods, snacks etc…

            • No actually today i do door,i rip the tickets and i hate that ugh,ppl think its easy but some ppl try to sneak in and i stop them. And its boring and i stand for 7 hours my feet start hurting. You have no idea *sigh*

              • getting germs on ticket stubs, even better!!

                • LMAO! Yes even better ;)

    • You thought Spider-Man 2 was bad? And I personally LOVED Drag Me To Hell – that was one of the most fun movie going experiences of last year for me.

      • Oh both those films are great!!!

      • Completely agree. Drag Me To Hell (while I wish it was R to get more of an Evil Dead feel) restored my faith in Sam.

    • So let’s say he keeps filming, with a cold. Now your’re in the theatre watching Sherlock 2 wondering why he sounds like he has a cold in certain scenes.

      Am I right people? Can I get an Achoo!

      • Uh well that depends lol,if he has a cold he should make a scene where hes almost dying or something lol

      • Chuck Heston was sick when he filmed that scene in ‘Planet of the Apes’ where he was being carted off in the net. “Get your stinking paws off me, you d@mn dirty ape!” That’s what gave his voice a little more “gravel”. Good stuff.

        Maybe if RDJ, stuck it out, it could help him sound like Holmes coming off a one week opium bender. (Or like himself coming off a one week coke bender way back when. Sorry, couldn’t resist.)

        • ahahahaha!!!

  3. DrSam-I can agree about Spidey 3, but the first 2 were done very well IMO. Actually, I think that the 2nd film was better than the first.

    I can see RDJ as the Wizard, though. He’d probably knock it out of the park.

    • Spiderman 2 was genuinely good stuff, but the first film was poor, the made Willem Dafoe into a power ranger, and they never captured the character of Spidey.

      I agree, RDJ would be good as the Wizard.

  4. Drag me to he’ll was awesome. Wasn’t a big spiderman fan to begin with so those movies were blah to me anyways. Loved the evil dead movies and a simple plan (very underrated film). I hope he only does ED4 cause he has the creative flow and want to do it and not cause the fans want it. Really not interested in a W.o.w. film, that just sounds horrible imho.

  5. Drag Me To Hell promised scares, delivered nothing but boredom.

    • Promised scares? I went in thinking it was classic Rami camp style. I honestly didn’t think it was marketed as a scary movie. I wasn’t bored at all. But that’s just my opinion.

      • It was certainly marketed as a scary movie, and it promised a monster that never materialised. And where was Bruce in that flick?

        • I didn’t realize that. I never even saw a trailer for it so when i heard about it i just heard it was raimi doing a evil dead type flick again.

          • i dont think of it as Evil Dead-ish at all.but to each his own i guess

    • ‘Drag Me To Hell’ was one of the dumbest,cheesiet horror films ever made. The only part I like was when she was actually dragged to hell.

  6. Crimewave was one of Raimi’s best films 8). Nothing will beat that.

    • Never heard of Crimewave?…

      • Yeah he wrote it with the coen brothers and directed it. It has bruce campbell too. I think it was released in 1987.

        • i THINK i might have seen it…can we just get a GD ED4 please!!

          • Totally netflix it Anthony! Its funny. It also has that guy from blade runner in it brion james i think his name is? But yes we need more ED4!

            • yep. sadly we wont be seeing anymore of the great Brion James. the movie looks familiar to me though, im gonna have to Netflix it for sure.

    • Drag woulda been better for 2 reasons…1. no Long, 2. an R rating..he really let me down with that one..though the tenacious gypsy old hag was funny

      • An R rating wouldn’t have made up for the film’s stupidity at all. There were soo many other issues with than film (like the script) than the rating.

  7. RDJ would certainly be an interesting choice for the wizard … this movie would have to deliver on many levels to find a comfortable alliance with the original Wizard of Oz movie and/or Baum’s stories. It almost requires a campy quality to make it fit. RDJ can deliver that, as well as those “dark” elements necessary to convey the theme of a con man’s greed. Sam Raimi certainly has the talent to pull off something extraordinary in this “prequel”, and I agree with you, Ross, that if he doesn’t go TOO DARK, then there is promise.

  8. Sounds interesting. But, getting a bit bored of Downey playing the same type of character again and again. I can’t see Raimi changing that either as THAT IS WHAT MAKES DOWNEY SO POPULAR at the moment.
    So forgive me if I just fall asleep if this is the case, as I already now know how the film is going to play out blah blah blah blah…..

  9. Hopefully he will read the source material this time.

  10. Oh how the mighty have fallen. Punishment for Spidey 3 and Spidey 4.