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With Bond 23 on ice, Sam Mendes linked to 'Wizard of Oz' project

21-Apr-2010 • Bond News

With the 23rd entry in the James Bond franchise on ice, Sam Mendes has quickly found another project to latch onto. According to a Production Weekly tweet, he's the front runner to direct "Oz The Great and Powerful", based partly on the L. Frank Baum books that also gave us such films as "The Wizard of Oz" and "Return to Oz", reports Cinematical. Like the latter (and to some extent The Muppets' Wizard of Oz), this film is set up at Disney. And here's the best part: Robert Downey Jr. is first choice to play the ol' Wizard. Because it had to be him or Johnny Depp, right?

24 Frames reported on this project a month ago when it was called "Brick." Scripted by Mitchell Kapner (The Whole Nine Yards), the plot concerns the back story of Oscar Zoroaster Phadrig Isaac Norman Henkel Emmannuel Ambroise Diggs (or O.Z. for short, as the rest of the initials spell out "PINHEAD"). A young circus magician from Omaha, O.Z. ends up ruler of the land also coincidentally called Oz when he mistakenly lands there in his hot air balloon. Apparently this is gaining heat because of the success of Alice in Wonderland while also coinciding with Universal's adaptation of Wicked, which is similarly an origin story inspired more than based upon the original Baum stories.

Other Wizard of Oz movies in the works right now include New Line's straight adaptation The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and Warner Bros.' darker, comic-booky Oz, which sends Dorothy's granddaughter to Oz to "fight evil," according to the LA Times. Disney's version will be produced by Alice in Wonderland's Joe Roth, and I'm assuming it will hit theaters before the rest.

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