Deadline has confirmed last week’s report from Vulture stating Sam Raimi (Spider-Man) will direct Oz, the Great and Powerful for Walt Disney Pictures with the current expectation for Robert Downey Jr. to play the wizard.
Mitchell Kapner (The Whole Ten Yards) wrote the screenplay based influenced by creator L. Frank Baum’s “Oz” books including some ideas of his own turning the wizard into a charlatan in Kansas who’s part of a traveling circus but goes on a similar odyssey as Dorothy when he mysteriously lands in Oz where he gets mistaken for a know-it-all (source Los Angeles Times).
The question of Downey seems a bit precarious considering he’s got Sherlock Holmes 2 on the horizon as well as Gravity with Alfonso Cuaron and who knows when or what his commitment to The Avengers is, but one would expect he’ll be a major part of that production given Iron Man is currently the only draw Paramount has to work with as both Thor and The First Avenger: Captain America have yet to be audience tested or approved. Should he commit to the Oz project as well you can pretty much expect little more from Downey over the course of the next two years.
Personally, I’m not much of a Raimi fan, but I can look at this project and should Raimi fully commit his sensibilities to it and go for something dark and comedic and equally dramatic there may be something there and Downey may be just the man to deliver the lines. Certainly I would rather Downey take on some smaller projects rather than all these big blockbuster titles, but who am I to suggest how the man makes the most of the massive pay days that must be coming his way. Kudos to him on that front.
Does an Oz prequel excite you that much? Weigh in in the comments below.