'Wizard of Oz' remake planned with 'Watchman' director

Tuesday, February 9, 2021 | Jake Coyle, AP Film Writer


Costumed "Wizard of Oz" characters attend the "Wizard of Oz" 70th Anniversary Emerald Gala on Sept. 24, 2009, in New York. New Line Cinema is making a new adaptation of “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz,” the L. Frank Baum children’s novel, with Nicole Kassell, the visual architect of “Watchmen,” set to direct. (AP Photo/Charles Sykes, File)

NEW YORK (AP) — Are we off to see the wizard, the Wonderful Wizard of Oz — again?

New Line Cinema is making a new adaptation of “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz,” L. Frank Baum children’s novel, with Nicole Kassell, the visual architect of “Watchmen,” set to direct. Baum's 1900 novel, now in the public domain, has spawned many adaptations over the years — most famously, of course, the 1939 MGM musical by Victor Fleming and starring Judy Garland.

Kassell's version will not be a musical. New Line said it will be a “fresh take” and a “reimagining” of “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.” It will have some advantages, too, since Warner Bros. owns New Line and the 1939 film. That means it can use some trademarked elements like the ruby slippers.

“While the 1939 musical is part of my DNA, I am exhilarated and humbled by the responsibility of re-imagining such a legendary tale," said Kassell in a statement. "The opportunity to examine the original themes — the quest for courage, love, wisdom and home — feels more timely and urgent than ever. 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 is an executive producer of HBO's “Watchmen” and directed three of its nine episodes, including the pilot. She has worked primarily in television but directed the feature films “The Woodsman" (2014) and “A Little Bit of Heaven" (2004).

The most recent “Wizard of Oz” film came from the Walt Disney Co.'s “Oz the Great and Powerful” in 2013. Directed by Sam Raimi and starring James Franco, it was set 20 years before the events of the 1939 classic.

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