Sam Raimi to Direct 'Oz, the Great and Powerful' [Updated]

[Update:  Raimi has officially signed on to direct.]

Ever since the decision was made to scrap Spider-Man 4 and reboot that franchise, speculation arose over what director Sam Raimi's next film might be. Vulture is reporting that he's been offered directorial duties on the The Wizard of Oz prequel Oz, the Great and Powerful.

Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures previously hired Raimi to develop a film based on the popular World of Warcraft video game, with the intention of moving forward on it once Spider-Man 4 had wrapped.  With Raimi no longer involved in Spidey's big screen adventures, that potentially leaves time for him to make another film first.

There were rumors that Raimi's next film might be a new live-action adaptation of The Shadow. Although it was later indicated that Raimi would only produce, nothing was ever made official, so this is still a possibility.

Several other notable directors have been considered for Oz, the Great and Powerful, including Sam Mendes (American Beauty, Road to Perdition), Adam Shankman (Hairspray), Timur Bekmambetov (Wanted), and Guillermo Del Toro (who has no shortage of other project to keep him busy).

As much as I'd like to see Raimi take on The Shadow next, he seems like a natural fit for Oz, the Great and Powerful. Take a look at the film's plot synopsis and see if you agree:

"Based on one of the many Frank Baum books, and a prequel to the Wizard of Oz, but told from the wizard’s point of view when he first enters Oz, 50 years before Dorothy. The Wizard is a young womanizing con artist who arrives in the land of Oz accidentally, and is mistaken to be a Wizard, playing along hoping to reap the riches of Oz, only to be thrown into a civil war of a royal family of three young women who later become the witches – 2 evil and 1 good"

Update: Deadline is reporting that Raimi's deal was finalized last night and he has officially signed on to direct.

The script, previously known as Brick, was written by Mitchell Kapner (The Whole Nine Yards, Romeo Must Die) and seems like a very interesting take on the Oz mythology. But is it intriguing enough to hold its own against two other Wizard of Oz-themed projects?

Last month we learned that Warner Bros. had hired Drew Barrymore to direct Sudden Dorothy, a sequel to the original 1939 film involving Dorothy's great, great granddaughter. The studio also has another Oz sequel in development written by Josh Olsen (A History of Violence) that seems to be taking a similar approach to the material.

At one point Robert Downey Jr. was said to be attached to Oz, the Great and Powerful as the Wizard - but this has yet to be confirmed or denied. With or without Downey's  involvement, the prequel seems to have the advantage in this race. Not only does the story appear to have more potential, it would also probably be met with less apprehension by fans of the original film, who are resistant to the idea of a direct sequel. Then again, Tim Burton's recent Alice in Wonderland was a continuation of a classic story and a massive box office success.

What do you think? Does Oz, the Great and Powerful sound like a good fit for Sam Raimi? What are your thoughts on the project in general?

Source: Vulture via /Film.

Update: Deadline.

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