This is almost profoundly weird news. They've been threatening Wizard of Oz sequels, prequels and remakes for years now and to be completely honest, I never expected any of them to actually come to fruition. With the exception of books and plays like Wicked, The Wizard of Oz has always seemed sacred enough to stave off exploitation. This may be about to change, as Production Weekly has unleashed a little morsel of information on its twitter feed:
"Sam Mendes is the front runner to direct "Oz The Great And Powerful" by Mitchell Kapner, with Robert Downey, Jr. circling to play the Wizard."
Presumably, this will be an origin story for the man behind the curtain himself, the Wizard. I don't see how this is a story that's begging to be told, but at least it's not an out-and-out remake. We can rest easy (for now) on that front. Let's take a quick moment to break this down.
I generally like Sam Mendes (even if that doesn't make me one of the cool kids), but he's been in the habit of attaching himself to movies he just isn't right for. First, he threatened to direct Preacher. Then, he threatened to direct the new Bond film. Now, he's threatening to take on the Wizard of freaking Oz. Mendes' cold, almost detached style is perfectly fine for the heavy Oscar bait he usually puts out, but is he capable of letting loose and making something that's, oh, I don't know...fun? This could be his chance to prove his naysayers wrong.
I always like Robert Downey Jr. Really, who doesn't? If anyone has to play the Wizard of Oz, why not him? I'm just wondering when he's going to find time to make this between Sherlock Holmes 2, Gravity, The Avengers and possibly Iron Man 3. Seriously, is he the busiest person in Hollywood?
Finally, you've got the writer, Mitchell Kapner, the man behind legendary screenplays like The Whole Ten Yards, Romeo Must Die and Into the Blue 2: The Reef. You know. The perfect guy to tackle a prequel to one of the most famous and important stories of all time.
This could go anywhere. More as we hear it.