The Wizard of Oz is a beloved bit of creative fantasy - no one denies that, but Hollywood's plan to release multiple Oz-inspired projects over the next few years is testing the patience of even the most fiercely loyal fans out there.
Now there's yet another Oz project in the works, titled Oz Wars, and it means to refashion Dorothy's experiences in Oz as a CG/stop-motion animated adventure flick full of black magic, warrior witches, and martial arts action (you read that correctly).
Vanguard Films is the economic force behind Oz Wars and Variety is reporting that the company has tapped stop-motion animation veteran Mike Johnson (who co-directed Corpse Bride with Tim Burton) to direct the pic. The plan is to use state-of-the-art stop-motion software to complete the project at a cheap cost and that task will be all the more feasible with an experienced artist like Johnson at the helm. Production is expected to get underway soon, with the Oz Wars script being already complete.
It's with the tone and content of Oz Wars that things start to get really... interesting. Johnson says that Oz will be a "dark, slick, sexy and dangerous" world in which Dorothy (who now hails from a contemporary Kansas, it seems) must do battle with deadly forces of magic and enchantresses in order to save the fantastical realm from destruction.
Johnson's description of Oz Wars as "sexy" recalls the rumored plot details for Oz the Great and Powerful, which were very much on the risque side themselves. It certainly sounds like Johnson has something far different in mind with his project than the other upcoming animated Oz film, Dorothy of Oz (see below), which looks to be more on the light and bright side, both visually and thematically.
L. Frank Baum's original Oz novels are overall far more twisted and darker than the 1939 Wizard of Oz movie. The generally creepy look and design of Johnson's previous work - which also includes Henry Selick's James and the Giant Peach adaptation- should serve the more macabre bend of Oz Wars well and could mean that this is one Oz story that will feel similar to Baum's original creation.
While we appreciate that Oz Wars has potential and that rumors about a motion-capture Wizard of Oz remake turned out to be essentially rubbish, the onslaught of Oz movies being developed is kind of befuddling. Do film studios really believe there is that much audience demand to either see Dorothy's adventures somewhere over the rainbow re-imagined or (dare we say it )... rebooted?
We'll keep you posted on the development of Oz Wars as more information comes our way.