Well, we sure didn't see this coming: New Line Cinema, a division of Warner Bros. Pictures, has announced a remake of the classic fantasy musical The Wizard of Oz is in the works.
Deadline reports the project, titled The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (the actual title of the classic book by L. Frank Baum), has also landed a director. Nicole Kassell, who helmed three episodes of HBO's Watchmen series, has got the job.
Kassell said in a statement, "While the 1939 musical is part of my DNA, I am exhilarated and humbled by the responsibility of re-imagining such a legendary tale. The opportunity to examine the original themes — the quest for courage, love, wisdom and home — feels more timely and urgent than ever."
She added, "These are profoundly iconic shoes to fill, and I am eager to dance alongside these heroes of my childhood as we pave a newly minted yellow brick road.”
Kassell, who won a Directors’ Guild award and an Emmy for her work on Watchmen, was recruited for The Wonderful Wizard of Oz after what was described as an "extensive director search" for a "visionary filmmaker." Kassell has also directed episodes of Westworld and The Leftovers, among others.
This film apparently is not connected to an Oz-related movie announced last year, an animated musical told from the viewpoint of Dorothy's dog Toto that is also under the Warner Bros. umbrella. The fate of that project is not clear, but Warner Bros. confirmed to SYFY WIRE they are separate entities.
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz may also find itself competiting for viewers' eyes and hearts with Wicked, the long-developing film version of the smash Broadway musical that recently found a new director itself, which tells the story from the perspective of the witches in the tale.
L. Frank Baum's book was first published in 1900, with the author himself penning some 13 sequels. Its first adaptation was a 1902 Broadway musical, which was made into a film in 1910.
Many adaptations, sequels, prequels and spinoffs have followed, in movies, TV, theater, and publishing, but none are as well-known or iconic as the classic 1939 movie starring Judy Garland as Dorothy.
More recent offshoots include the 2013 Disney-produced prequel movie, Oz the Great and Powerful, and the short-lived 2017 NBC TV series Emerald City.
One interesting note: Since the book is in the public domain, you and and your friends can basically get together tomorrow and start making your own Wizard of Oz movie. But any elements original to the 1939 movie, such as the ruby slippers Dorothy wears (they were silver in the book), are solely the property of Warner Bros, which owns the 1939 film.