Warner Bros. ‘Oz’ Project Not So Twisted After All

Published 6 years ago by , Updated February 15th, 2014 at 4:27 pm,

twisted land of oz Warner Bros. Oz Project Not So Twisted After All

We recently reported on the rumor that Dakota Fanning will play Dorothy in a dark version of The Wizard of Oz, which was supposedly based on Spawn creator Todd McFarlane’s Twisted Land of Oz toyline.

After the rumor about Fanning surfaced, McFarlane (always the hype man) spoke up about what his vision for the film was, comparing Dorothy’s odyssey through Oz to Ellen Ripley’s nightmarish experience in Alien. In recent weeks McFarlane talked to Empire about the film (which he is only loosely associated with), where he claimed that there were some squeaky-clean weaknesses in the Oz script that needed some dirtying.

Well, AICN touched base with screenwriter Josh Olson (A History of Violence), who had a few words to say about Mr. McFarlane, and how the Warner Bros. Oz film is actually progressing.

This particular Oz film has been in development over at Warner Bros. for about two years now. According to Olson, the only connection Todd McFarlane has to the project is that he was the one to open the door for an Oz sequel at Warner Bros., via his toyline. And…that’s where it ends. Olson claims that once WB was open to the concept of another Oz film, he stepped through that door with a concept and pitch that were all his own. Oh, and Dakota Fanning starring as Dorothy is strictly a rumor.

Check out some excerpts from AICN‘s exclusive memo from Olson:

Just to clarify – the Oz project I wrote wasn’t “twisted” in any way. McFarlane’s involvement with the project and the fact that his line of toys live up to that epithet has led to a lot of confusion in the last couple years. The pitch I sold to Warners was entirely my own, based on events in several of the L. Frank Baum books, combined with a story of my own creation…If you want to think of it in terms of what’s out there, I was going for a Harry Potter tonality…

But for the record, the project we sold Warners on was in no way based on the Twisted Land of Oz figures. There was no bondage Dorothy, and no gigantic Toto monster. I’ve never met Todd, never heard his take, and we had one brief telephone conversation after I sold the pitch in which no details of the project were discussed. To be honest, I don’t even know if he’s read my script.

twisted oz the scarecrow header Warner Bros. Oz Project Not So Twisted After All

A lot of our readers have already expressed annoyance with Todd McFarlane’s seeming habit of over-hyping Todd McFarlane, and I’m not one to judge where the truth lies in every single case of Hollyweird, but it if Olson (who we know IS involved with this Oz project) is implying that McFarlane is blowing smoke, I’m hard pressed not to believe him.

However, if we’re not going to get the twisted freaks of McFarlane’s Oz, what can we expect? According to Olson:

Mine is more of a sequel that was – or was at least intended to be – a return to the magical land of Oz that would work well for both fans of the MGM classic, and fans of Baum’s amazing books.

For a look at the full memo from Olson, go here.

Ok, so I understand what Olson is attempting to do and why he’s doing it – but this project has just hit a wall, as far as I’m concerned. While I didn’t think McFarlane’s vision was suited for film, the notion of a dark Oz movie had my fickle interests genuinely piqued. Hearing that the film might turn out to be a straight-up sequel to one of the most enduring fantasy fables of all time, I find myself wondering “Why the hell would you bother?”

The Wizard of Oz is not a freaking movie that screams “franchise potential.” It’s a standalone classic – a perfect little story wrapped in a magical little movie – leave it the hell alone, end of story. Either bring an original and interesting vision to the table or don’t sit down at the table at all. I can’t believe I’m forced to side with Todd McFarlane on this one…


Which would YOU rather see? A Twisted Land of Oz flick? Or a sequel to The Wizard of Oz?

Sources: Empire & Aint It Cool News

Header Image Source: IGN

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  1. New take on it, just dumbed down from McFarlane’s toy line.

  2. Dark Oz all the way. It’s much more entertaining to see something so well known get turned on its head. “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” doesn’t count.

  3. Stupid! I want dark twisted Oz!!!

  4. Well done, Kofi. You start your article on The Wizard Of Oz with a picture of Alice from Amercian McGee’s reinterpretation of Alice in Wonderland, and fail to mention that there’s already been a dark sequel to Oz – Walter Murch’s 1985 film Return to Oz. Underrated, based far more closely on L. Frank Baum’s novels and replete with dark and twisted imagery, which is why most of the fans of the 1939 musical were suitably horrified.

  5. @ Kosta

    You’re right about the picture, but this post isn’t meant to focus on Murch’s “Twisted Oz,” It’s about McFarlane’s

  6. I had never heard of McFarlene’s toy line before the last article, but I have to say it got me excited. I’m going to make an educated guess and say that those of you who thought it was a bad idea are older (I’m 20).

    To the people who grew up with Wizard of Oz I can see why you’d think this is a stupid idea, but I feel that a sequel, or, worse, a true remake, are even more stupid ideas. The original is undoubtedly a classic, and a sequel or a remake would never live up to the legacy of the original.

    But a new take on the idea, that takes the original story in completely different direction is a great idea. Where the original is an optimistic, happy, family-safe musical, this Twisted Oz would be a pessimistic, dark, adult, and I stress this next part, Rock Opera.

    It would do worse at the box office, for sure, so I can understand the mentality of the studio, but I think at the end of the day it would be a much, much better film than a straight up sequel.

  7. um, just a quicky, Josh… there aren’t too many people around on forums of this type that were “brought up on” the original version of Oz.. it’s nearly 70 years old.

  8. I just can’t see a sequel doing well in the box office. I think they’d be limiting themselves to an older demographic. Young people today aren’t so interested in soft fairy tales like that anymore. The fact Olson says the film will be in the vein of Harry Potter might make it more marketable, but I still think it’ll be a hard sell. A twisted Oz, on the other hand, would have been an easy sell, and I think the would’ve hit bigger box office numbers with McFarlane’s version.

  9. MGM’s Wizard of Oz is one of my top five favorite films of all-time, but I find it interesting that Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland is a semi-sequel but you don’t see people complaining about that. And to be honest, I think that’s probnably how this will be. It’s not remake of the original, it’s not a direct sequel, it’s just a way to make another Oz film while trying to be as respectful fo the original as possible, which really seems like the best way to handle a project like this.

  10. Those pictures are creepy :)

  11. Why would they do a sequel on something that is perfect as a stand-alone movie?
    You REALLY need an answer to that? Fine. How about MONEY. The rights to use the Wizard of Oz name alone will guarantee at least 300 million in box office, domestic. Still sounds like a bad idea? Of COURSE it is. But, remember, they DID do a sequel to Gone With The Wind, so, that basically means the Hollywood elite have no qualms whatsoever about trashing established hits. May as well get to work on Citizen Kane’s sequel as well.

  12. I want the dark twisted oz. New take on the classic story.

  13. Um…
    Wasn’t there a “dark(er?)” sequel to ‘The Wizard Of Oz’ already?
    Flashback to 1985 – “Return To Oz” A Walter Murch film, Executive Produced by Gary Kurtz (Star Wars , Dark Crystal) -Described by Leonard Maltin as:
    “Distressingly downbeat sequel with Dorothy fleeing a spooky sanitarium in Kansas to return to her beloved land – only to find evil rulers in charge”

  14. You really can’t write a story like this and leave out “Return to Oz” because this is just history repeating itself. This would explain why the current production is hitting a brick wall. A lot of the studio execs were around in 1985 when Return to Oz flopped. Walter Murch is still one of Hollywood’s top editors. The studio people know him and know he directed one movie that went fizzz. It was a great movie, but it died for the exact same reasons that Twisted Oz probably will.

  15. A sequel to the MGM musical!!!!!!!!!! I hate this dark and twisted versions from fairy tales like “American McGee’s Alice” and so on, the ORIGINALS are CHILDREN BOOKS, and the movies should be also for kids!!!
    I image something like Tim Burton’s “Alice in Wonderland” for the Oz sequel. I think it looks really great and stunning, just awesome, the visuals are great, it’s for children and adults, and this is the way I would made also “Oz”!!!