‘The Wizard of Oz’ Will Get a Remake
Hollywood is off to see the Wizard yet again.
According to reports, the 1939 classic of The Wizard of Oz is getting a brand new remake. The project is in development at Warner Bros., where black-ish creator Kenya Barris has been brought in to write and direct the project.
According to Deadline, “we all know the story from the 1939 film, but Barris is keeping the creative details close to the vest. It will be a modern reimagining of the iconic musical. His deal closed last week. Sheila Walcott is overseeing for the studio.”
While there has never been an exact 1:1 remake of the 1939 Judy Garland version of The Wizard of Oz, Hollywood has never gone too long without an attempt to recreate the original movie’s success in some way. A few years ago, Sam Raimi directed Oz: The Great and Powerful, a prequel film that wasn’t directly tied to the old-school Wizard of Oz for legal reasons, but was clearly intended to evoke it in telling the origin story of the wizard Oz and his first arrival in the magical land. In the 1980s, there was Return to Oz, a surprisingly dark sequel film directed by Walter Murch. In the 1970s, there was The Wiz, a musical version of the Wizard of Oz with an all-black cast, based on a Broadway show.
Barris’ Wizard of Oz isn’t even the only project in this realm that’s currently in development in Hollywood. There’s also a two-part film version of the current Broadway hit Wicked which is a different prequel or sidequel to The Wizard of Oz from the perspective of the story’s witches. That movie (technically movies) will star Cynthia Erivo as Elphaba and Ariana Grande as Glinda the Good Witch. Directed by Jon M. Chu, they’re currently scheduled for release around Christmas of 2024 and 2025.
Is there an audience for all these different Wizard of Oz projects? That’s a good question. On the one hand, the original film remains one of the most enduringly popular classics in Hollywood history. On the other hand, a lot of the aforementioned projects meant to appeal to those fans have flopped at the box office. People love The Wizard of Oz, but it’s very rare for anything related to it to measure up to the original. A direct remake of that first film would come with even higher expectations, which could be really tricky to navigate.