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Warner Bros to adapt L. Frank Baum's Oz books

Discussion in 'Movies' started by Brenton, Sep 2, 2007.

  1. Brenton

    Brenton Well-Known Member

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    After pitching the idea to Warner Bros, Josh Olson (Oscar-nominated screenwriter of The History of Violence) has been hired to adapt L. Frank Baum's Oz books for the screen. The fourteen-book series was originally published between 1900 and 1920, beginning with The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (upon which the popular 1939 Judy Garland film is based).

    When the news first broke, there was some confusion about how closely it would adhere to the source material, and whether or not it would be a "dark" revisionist take on Oz. The reason for this confusion is Spawn creator Todd McFarlane's role as producer of the project. Within the last few years, McFarlane created a line of figurines of darkly reimagined Oz characters, including a BDSM-style Dorothy.

    However, these rumors have been allayed by writer Olson. He reveals that he has, in fact, never even met McFarlane. "I think even Todd would be happy to tell you, this movie has no connection whatsoever to those action figures, and when I say it will be darker, do not expect it to go beyond Harry Potter dark."

    I know that a lot of fans of the 1939 MGM version will be opposed to the idea of "re-making" The Wizard of Oz. My argument against this kind of thinking is that it's NOT a remake of that movie. It is to be a new movie based on the same novel that the previous movie was based on. Making the Oz books for the screen using today's visual effects seems like a natural move, with the popularity and success of recent movies like The Lord of the Rings series, the Harry Potter series, and The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe and its forthcoming sequel.

    L. Frank Baum's Oz books have been my favorite books ever since I was nine years old, and ever since I was just that young, I've been feeling the need for a film that represents Baum's original book more accurately than the MGM version does. I'm not putting down the MGM version. It's been my favorite movie since before I could talk. But coming from as well-informed an Oz fan as I am, I think it's safe to say that it's about time.

    I'm really excited by Josh Olson's obvious enthusiasm for the source material. He says, "it’s all built around Baum’s characters, Baum’s world, and Baum’s vision."

    Warners will be making the movie in conjunction with Village Roadshow Pictures. Basil Iwanyk will be co-producer with McFarlane. Rick Benattar is executive producer.

    (Source: 1, 2, 3, 4.)
     
  2. Lou Sytsma

    Lou Sytsma Well-Known Member

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    I read most if not all the Oz books. Its an amazingly well developed world beyond what most people are aware of. The results of this endeavour should be interesting to follow.
     
  3. DavidPla

    DavidPla Well-Known Member

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    I say bring it on. As much as the 1939 version is a classic... it's not that faithful of an adaption of the book. This could be a great series if done right.
     
  4. Lucia Duran

    Lucia Duran Well-Known Member

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    This COULD be great. I hope it is as I am a HUGE fan of the Baum series. While I enjoy the Wizard of OZ starring Judy Garland, I have longed for someone to come along and actually show the world of OZ as Baum intended it to be.

    I must admit though, I haven't been too impressed with Hollywoods remakes of books. They tend to make these movies for those who aren't readers and I feel they leave out too much from books.

    If someone can finally come along and do it right, I will be very impressed!
     
  5. Brenton

    Brenton Well-Known Member

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    I think that you're right if we're talking about remakes of books in general. But if you look at LOTR, Harry Potter, and Narnia, I think what we're seeing is a new wave of movies that are actually a sincere and effective attempt to bring these books to the screen using today's visual filmmaking style. Of course they're not perfect, and of course there are still some ways that they're not entirely living up to the books. But I think that whatever failures they may have, they succeed on so many more levels.

    I think the reason for this is that these stories (LOTR, Narnia, Oz, etc.) were all written with completely unrestrained use of imagination, and it is only just now (as in "just this decade") that effects have advanced enough that they can make a pretty straight adaptation without having to make a lot of unpleasant changes.
     
  6. Ray H

    Ray H Well-Known Member

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    Nice to hear. But unfortunately, it won't be as God-awesome as my re-imagining. [​IMG]
     
  7. Ray_R

    Ray_R Well-Known Member

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    This is what I've been saying for a looooooooooooooong time! Return to Oz is far closer in terms of a truer adaptation compared to The Wizard of Oz (1939). I'm glad they're going to adapt it far closer to the actual novel.
    Of course the people not in the know will bitch and moan about it.
     
  8. Lucia Duran

    Lucia Duran Well-Known Member

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    See, I thought Harry Potter and Narnia stunk! I was so unimpressed with those movies. they could have been so great, but fell flat on their faces.

    LOTR was really good. I own those on dvd and love watching them.
     
  9. Brenton

    Brenton Well-Known Member

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    Same here! I've made this movie in my head so many times that I could very easily turn out to be one of those unsatisfiable hardcore nerds. I can only hope that I'll be open-minded enough to accept what other people decide to do with my favorite books.
     
  10. Brenton

    Brenton Well-Known Member

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    I agree with you about Harry Potter, but I didn't like the books either. I didn't think Narnia was amazing by any means, but I thought they were totally successful at translating the book to the screen. I would trace any weakness of the Narnia movie straight back to the book, which (like the movie) I enjoyed, but I just didn't think it was incredibly fun.

    But anyway, my original point was that all of these movies are very much like the books they're based on, and any of their shortcomings have nothing to do with them being "too different" from the books, because they're not. It's a totally different situation from the old days, when a popular children's book would be made into a movie, there was no guarantee of any resemblance to the book.

    I'm personally of the opinion that the Oz books are so imaginatively written that as long as the movie is close enough to the books (which Josh Olson has declared his intentions to do so), the books' natural strengths will carry through and make the movie great.

    What thoughts do you guys have on how they would do the Oz characters? I'm picturing the Tin Woodman and the Cowardly Lion fully CG. The Tin Woodman is a natural candidate for CG. That almost goes without saying. The way he was drawn in the books, his arms and legs weren't nearly thick enough for a human actor's arms and legs to be hiding inside of. And such geometric and rigid shapes have always been the very easiest thing for CG to handle. The Cowardly Lion could be very similar to Aslan in "Narnia", but I would picture him with a more expressive or comical face than the more realistic Aslan.

    The Scarecrow could almost go either way, between a guy in a suit, or fully CG. The reason I would lean towards CG on him is because of the advances of CG in recent years at doing realistic clothing. I think the guys who do computer animation so brilliantly could do a really amazing job at making a scarecrow that is almost weightless. Ray Bolger did a pretty brilliant job at being extremely limber and 'rubber-limbed' as the Scarecrow in 1939; but really if you think about it, there's nothing any human actor could ever do to make himself move like someone who is literally nothing more than a living suit of clothes stuffed with straw. But even if they did opt for a guy in a suit, I think that at least the face should be CG.

    If they did decide to make all three of these characters CG, that would create a difficult situation in casting Dorothy, namely trying to find someone who is a good enough actress to pretend like she's not standing there in the shot by herself. This will be especially difficult if they make her as young as she was in the books. Baum never reveals her exact age in the books, but I would guess anywhere between 7 and 12.
     
  11. Brian Dobbs

    Brian Dobbs Ambassador

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    Wow, I can't imagine what a modern day movie on Oz would be like. Sounds very interesting.
     
  12. Matthew_Def

    Matthew_Def Well-Known Member

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    Tone is much more important that sticking to plot details when it comes to adaptations. The reason people love fantasy books especially is because of how they make one feel. So that feeling should be top of the list of musts in this go around.
     
  13. MandyHan

    MandyHan Well-Known Member

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    Well I liked The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe...I really admire the fact that they stuck to the book so closely, as many movies do not do that. I heard they're making all the Narnia books into movies and releasing one per year starting in 2008 with Prince Caspian. I'll definitely be seeing all of them.
     
  14. varybarry

    varybarry Active Member

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    I think it's a great idea to make Oz seem twisted and dark. It would be nice to see a different perspective.
     
  15. Brenton

    Brenton Well-Known Member

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    I disagree with you because "twisted and dark" would not be a "different" perspective. It has been done a million times over the years. Not necessarily theatrically, but it has been done in other forms such as novels, graphic novels, figurines, there was a failed TV pilot a couple years ago, and there's actually a miniseries like that coming to the SciFi channel this fall.

    An overabundance of "dark" reinterpretations of Oz would not bother me at all if the need for a faithful screen adaptation of Oz had already been met. But it hasn't, and so it seems to be that if they keep oversaturating the market with these dark versions, it's just a diversion from the one approach that has not been taken with Oz: a faithful translation of the Oz books to the screen.

    I really don't think that a dark reinterpretation of Oz would stand any chance of being commercially successful as a theatrical movie. The evidence for that is Return to Oz. It wasn't even that dark, but it was still too dark to be well-received by the public.
     
  16. Russell G

    Russell G Fake Shemp
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    BAsed on the few Baum Oz books I read, just adapting them true to the original stories well make them darker then the Judy Garland one. This could be really great if done right.
     
  17. Brenton

    Brenton Well-Known Member

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    That's true. I think of the Oz books as darker than the 1939 Wizard of Oz but less dark than Return to Oz. In other words, they would still not be what most people think of when they hear "dark". Screenwriter Josh Olson says, "I want this to be ‘Harry Potter’ dark, not ‘Seven’ dark." That sounds about right to me.
     
  18. Jason Seaver

    Jason Seaver Well-Known Member

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    One thing I'm not clear on - is this Boorman project the same as the Warner Brothers project? I believe these books are in the public domain now, so pretty much anyone can start work on their own.
     

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