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Oz the Great and Powerful Only Comes Out Today, But Disney Already Has a Sequel Planned. Because Of Course They Do.

I don’t know why I’m even surprised by this.

Oz the Great and Powerful comes out in theaters today, but Disney’s already hired Mitchell Kapner, who co-wrote the first film, to write a sequel. Man, I sure hope a bad script doesn’t keep Oz from earning a ton of money.

Oh, who are we kidding? Good script, bad script. It’ll make tons either way. Enough to warrant a sequel at any rate. Unlike with recent fantasy flop Jack the Giant Slayer, Oz the Great and Powerful‘s studio seems to know how to market it.

Before anyone jumps in to say “But there’s already a sequel—The Wizard of Oz!”… look, if Oz the Great and Powerful does well financially (and it’s expected to—$80 million on opening weekend is the prediction), of course Disney’s going to want to cash in on that with another trip to their version of Oz, which is (legally) distinct from the Judy Garland version even if Disney is totally piggybacking on the classic film’s appeal. Variety points out that Disney isn’t allowed to “use any of the iconic creative additions from the original film — Dorothy’s ruby slippers, for example.”

And then there’s the fact that the classic Oz is good and Disney’s Oz looks… not. So if Disney wants to do a sequel, fine, whatever. I don’t have to see it. The Wizard of Oz is still great.

(Disney could, if they wanted to, use material from L. Frank Baum‘s original Oz books, since they’re in the public domain. For an excellent essay on how Disney’s Oz differs from Baum’s books, notably in how female characters are treated, check out Elisabeth Rappe‘s Why ‘Oz the Great and Powerful’ Is A Major Step Back For Witches and Women.)

Sorry if this all came off a bit bitter. I remembered during the course of writing this that Disney’s also doing a sequel to Tim Burton‘s Alice and Wonderland, and all my goodwill for the studio just kind of evaporated.

(via: Collider)

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  • gia manry

    Assuming that Oz is cool, I’m totally okay with redoing the original Oz story AND BEYOND!…complete with the original silver slippers. :) And the magic belt! And the nome king! And Tik-Tok! And..and..and..!

  • CW

    Disney has decided a big-budget genre movie released in March is successful before it opens? That’s quite a change from their strategy last year.

  • Aeryl

    That the story is not a sympathetic portrayal of women is a sad letdown to Baum’s legacy of feminism.

  • Gern

    It is. But Baum was sadly pretty racist too who advocated, in his words “the total annihilation of the few remaining Indians.”

    So he himself was a one step forward, two steps back kind of guy. He’d probably have a heart attack seeing that there are people of color in Oz in this movie.

  • JEDeLauche

    Actually, in 1954 Disney purchased from the L. Frank Baum estate the
    film rights to all Baum’s Oz books (he wrote a series of 14 Oz books),
    all except the first book, “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz,” also known as
    “The Wizard of Oz.” MGM owns the film rights to Baum’s first booki. Plus, in 1985 Disney came out with a film that WAS the sequel to the
    “Wizard of Oz.” It was entitled “Return to Oz” and was a combination
    (with some changes) of books 2 and 3 in Baum’s Oz book series, “The
    Marvelous Land of Oz” (1904) and “Ozma of Oz” (1907.) For those who love
    the Baum Oz book series, “Return to Oz” a big hit. However, most who
    went to see “Return to Oz” were expecting a Judy Garland/MGM “Wizard of
    Oz” sort of film. It wasn’t. It did not do well at the box office in 1985.
    I am a big fan of the Baum Oz series as well as those that followed by
    author Ruth Plumly Thompson and then the well-known Oz book illustrator,
    John O’Neill. I’m also a librarian by training, so I know where and how
    to look up relevant info. Cheers!

  • Aeryl

    Definitely a man of many conflicts. But being a racist when (practically) everyone was, and feminist when (practically) no one was, scores him points in my book. This was a man who was writing the American myth in his own mind, and he chose to put women front and center and heroes and villains(though there is a bit of Exceptional Womaness about Dorothy surrounding herself with men).

  • Aeryl

    I cannot TELL you how many people I know who are so disappointed we won’t be getting more John Carter of Mars.

  • Tabitha

    Something good could come out of this. We need to see more of Locosta (the Good Witch of the North), Princess Mombi (another evil witch, Tip’s stepmother), and Princess Langwidere (an evil princess who kidnaps Dorothy for her head)!

  • Anonymous

    My boyfriend asked me if we could go see this this morning. I laughed bitterly, as I thought the trailer looked awful and I had my suspicions about the roles of the ‘great and powerful witches who apparently need a lying, cheating, jerk of a powerless human male to save the world for them!’ Having researched reviews etc I have most definitely confirmed my suspicions and hopefully convinced my boyfriend too! :/

  • Ryan Colson

    Hold the phone,
    if Disney cant use MGM’s creations, why the hell is Disney using their “made of jewels” Emerald City as opposed to the book’s “Wear some green glasses” version (or one of their own)? That’s what really confuses me…

  • Ryan Colson

    And also MGM’s 1 good and 2 bad witch formula..

  • Rebecca Pahle

    Not sure how they managed to pull that one off, but I’m sure Disney’s legal team made absolutely sure they could.

    They also have the real world=b&w, Oz=color thing going on, too. Though maybe something in the book described it that way? (Don’t know, have yet to read it.) I guess that’s just not a concrete enough thing to cause legal problems.

  • Ryan Colson

    The film rights held by Disney aren’t any longer though, when they did RtO, that was because they were about to lose the rights in 5 years, and WB owns the rights to any MGM incarnation of the book, but not the film rights themselves. The mouse can remake/respin the original Oz all they want, and so can Tim Burton if he wants to give the Cowardly Lion Robert Smith hair and have him played by Depp.

  • JEDeLauche

    @Ryan Colson – Thanks for the updated info on the film rights to the
    Baum Oz books. :-) You ARE correct that after the 1985 “Return to Oz”
    film, Disney lost the film rights to the Baum Oz books. Plus, I stand
    corrected on which company owns the rights to the 1939 “Wizard of Oz”
    film. They are now held by Warner. Of course the written works by L.
    Frank Baum are in the public domain and any publisher can reprint them.
    Plus, except for the “Wizard of Oz” film, anyone can write a screenplay
    using characters and concepts from the Baum Oz books. Once a film is
    made and copyrighted, then derivatives are a whole other bowl of
    copyright worms. :-) I suspect the film “Oz, the Great and Powerful” is a
    way to spin off from the book “Wicked” by Gregory Maguire and the
    subsequent stage musical derived from the book, also entitled “Wicked.” I
    think I will watch the new “Oz, the Great and Powerful” only when it is
    out in DVD format and I can borrow it at no charge from my public

  • 2nihon

    Return to Oz was dark but beautiful, portraying a realistic Dorothy that reminds me of how little girls really would react in the situation. I would gladly go to an Oz film like that.

  • Anonymous

    There are SO many great characters in the Oz books that I’d love to see brought to a larger audience. The Shaggy Man, the Hungry Tiger, and the mad iconiclast, Scraps the Patchwork Girl.
    General Jinjur may be a bit of a harsh parody of what was then the suffragette movement (and would now be seen as a “straw feminist”), but she made plenty of later appearances as a heroine as well.

  • Alexis XP

    Okay so I actually saw the film tonight…and it really was awesome! As a huge fan of Oz, it was a really good addition to the Oz film lineup. They were very innovative, and the way they threw in little history references in the beginning and set up hints at Dorothy’s parents. It made me so happy. The only real issue with the movie was that once they reached oz it felt like the story line moved way too fast. It felt as if with the story they were setting up it would be better as a two parter, but those are too unattractive to mainstream audiences unless they know what they’re getting into. But otherwise, it was wonderful! :D

  • Seanna Tucker

    I’m conflicted. I’m seeing this movie tonight and I have to be honest that James Franco is not one of my favorite leading men of late.

    But then I have a compulsion to see fantasy movies, even when I know they’ll probably be awful and really anti-woman (Jack the Giant Slayer). But I hate that they’ve already decided to have a sequel.

  • Robert Vary

    Baum was actually rather wildly inconsistent with his continuity (I say lovingly as a huge fan of the books). The first book did indeed go with the “it’s not really emeralds, I make them wear the green glasses to fool them,” but later books describe the city as actually being made of emeralds. Notably, the very next book describes General Jinjur’s soldiers prying emeralds out of the walls during their revolution. Baum did it, so Disney can do it.

  • Robert Vary

    The book does describe Kansas as being rather oppressively gray, and Oz as being very colorful. I could see that being good enough for Disney to claim that that particular stylistic choice doesn’t fall under copyright.

  • Robert Vary

    Oh my god, I would LOVE to see Scraps in a movie. She was always one of my favorites.

    And just for good measure, here’s my personal interpretation of General Jinjur: she’s not a parody of the suffragette movement (which wouldn’t really make sense, as Baum was an ardent supporter of it.) Instead, she’s a parody of straw feminists, sort of like this “Hark a Vagrant” strip: They’re vain and frivolous, fighting with knitting needles and primarily interested in jewels, much as suffragettes were indeed characterized at the time. HOWEVER, note that at the end Jinjur is deposed by Glinda’s all-women army, armed with actual weapons, and is replaced by the rightful ruler of Oz, Princess Ozma. The real suffragettes beat out the straw ones. That’s how I read it, anyway.

  • Rebecca Pahle

    Well there ya go. Thanks!

  • Anonymous

    Ugh, I just saw this movie and I really have to agree with the reviews. The movie was so frustrating for the exact reasons mentioned in Rappe’s review.


    Though Glinda knows Oz to be powerfui, there’s a scene where it’s all falling apart and Glinda frustratingly tells him that she’s all he has. Right. Because you’ve been waging this war long since he’s arrived, and he’s a completely powerless person and HE’s all she has? How about her own fickin’ magic? Why isn’t she leading the fight? Why do you need this random, useless, selfish stranger to make the plan for you, especially when he’s been given 0 background on Oz’s history or Evanora’s abilities…But Glinda’s been in the fight since the beginning, with full background of the threat.

    Every time people turned to Oz as the de facto savior despite their own better positioned abilities, I just threw my hands up in the air.

    Plus, the entire character arc for Theodora was bullshit. Completely defined by her first brush with love and even her appearance is dictated by Oz’s ideas of what her appearance should/shouldn’t be. It would have been really interesting to see Theodora’s first brush with love explored in a way that it didn’t become her complete, all-consuming raison d’etre.

    And tot op it all of, the movie wasn’t even good. It was visually stunning, but full of cheap sentimentality, things you knew the producers/writers were thinking “this should make people go ‘Awww’”. How can Disney get its pathos and gravitas so, so right with its Pixar films and get it so wrong with this movie?

    It could have been great and fun. Instead, it wasn’t even good. It was just another self-indulgent “I’m a lackluster guy who needs his ego stroked until everything falls into place for me to become a hero” narrative. And who the hell thought it was a good idea to cast Zack Braff?

  • Anonymous

    Yep, it’s exactly like that.