Well, that didn’t take long. A couple of weeks ago it was announced director Sam Mendes was leaving various other projects behind so he could concentrate on Bond 23, but then yesterday it was revealed that because of MGM’s financial woes, development on that movie had been halted indefinitely. This immediately led to speculation as to what this meant for Mendes, who wasn’t likely to just sit around twiddling his thumbs, waiting for the next 007 adventure to start back up.
Well, one possibility has immediately come to the fore, with a Production Weekly tweet saying that, ‘Sam Mendes is the front runner to direct Oz The Great And Powerful by Mitchell Kapner, with Robert Downey, Jr. circling to play the Wizard’.
This is one of a number of Oz based projects in the works (Warner even has two competing Oz movies in development), which plan to take L. Frank Baum’s work in various directions, from an adaptation of the musical Wicked to Jon Boorman’s animated take on the original tale, to a couple that turn that whole thing darker and more gothic.
Oz The Great and Powerful (previously known as Brick), is being produced by Alice In Wonderland’s Joe Roth and has been set up at Disney. This idea is to concentrate on the wizard himself, presenting him as a far more complex character than in the 1939 film. It will look at how he got from Kansas to Oz, and became the ruler of the Emerald City, even though he’s really nothing but a fraud.
Nobody’s officially signed on yet, with Downey Jr. merely talking to producers about playing the wizard, while the LA Times says Mendes isn’t the only one at the top of Disney’s list of directors, as Adam Shankman (Hairspray) is also on their wishlist. If everything comes together it could shoot as early as next spring.