CATEGORIES Features, Movies
Drew Barrymore in 'Ever After'Just go ahead and rename Hollywood the Emerald City. There are at least five movies inspired by 'The Wizard of Oz' in various stages of development at studios around town. Six, if Wednesday's report from Pajiba is correct, saying that Drew Barrymore is dusting off her own long-shelved 'Oz' spinoff, 'Surrender Dorothy,' probably not to star in herself, but to direct.

What's all the munchkin-mania about? Chalk it up to the success this spring of Tim Burton's 'Alice in Wonderland,' which has grossed about $332 million to date in North America and $981 million worldwide. Now, let's see (we imagine studio executives asking themselves), what other well known, public domain fantasy tales with adolescent heroines are out there to adapt? Why, how about L. Frank Baum's century-old 'Oz' novels? There's enough of them for a whole franchise of movies, plus eternal market awareness of the Dorothy character, thanks to the undying classic 1939 film.

Still, six 'Oz' movies at once? We're guessing that not all of them are going to make it down the yellow brick road that leads out of development limbo. Here's a progress report on the various 'Oz' opuses, including Drew Barrymore's reported re-entry into the Dorothy derby. Drew Barrymore in 'Ever After'Just go ahead and rename Hollywood the Emerald City. There are at least five movies inspired by 'The Wizard of Oz' in various stages of development at studios around town. Six, if Wednesday's report from Pajiba is correct, saying that Drew Barrymore is dusting off her own long-shelved 'Oz' spinoff, 'Surrender Dorothy,' probably not to star in herself, but to direct.

What's all the munchkin-mania about? Chalk it up to the success this spring of Tim Burton's 'Alice in Wonderland,' which has grossed about $332 million to date in North America and $981 million worldwide. Now, let's see (we imagine studio executives asking themselves), what other well known, public domain fantasy tales with adolescent heroines are out there to adapt? Why, how about L. Frank Baum's century-old 'Oz' novels? There's enough of them for a whole franchise of movies, plus eternal market awareness of the Dorothy character, thanks to the undying classic 1939 film.

Still, six 'Oz' movies at once? We're guessing that not all of them are going to make it down the yellow brick road that leads out of development limbo. Here's a progress report on the various 'Oz' opuses, including Drew Barrymore's reported re-entry into the Dorothy derby.

'Surrender Dorothy'
Who's behind it? Drew Barrymore's production company, Flower Films
What's it about? According to Pajiba, the latest version of the script, by Zach Helm ('Stranger Than Fiction') is an 'Enchanted'-like story that sees the Wicked Witch of the West still alive and threatening to take over our world as well as Oz. It's up to Dorothy's great-great-granddaughter to figure out how to use the ruby slippers to defeat her.
Status: Barrymore's been developing this project since way back in 1999, when she was still a fresh-faced ingenue who'd just played Cinderella in 'Ever After.' Today, Pajiba says, the 35-year-old is unlikely to star in it, but she would direct it as her follow-up to her directing debut in last year's 'Whip It.' Pajiba imagines she might cast 'Whip It' star Ellen Page, who would indeed make a fine Dorothy. Still, with 11 years having gone by, it doesn't seem like Barrymore's exactly in a hurry to get this off the ground.

Robert Downey Jr.'Oz the Great and Powerful'
Who's behind it? Disney and 'Alice in Wonderland' producer Joe Roth
What's it about? The script by Mitchell Kapner ('The Whole Nine Yards') tells the backstory of how the wizard went from earthbound carnival mountebank to becoming the fearsome and mysterious sorcerer of the Emerald City.
Status: Given the success of the Roth-produced 'Alice,' Disney is likely to fast-track this movie, which was formerly titled 'Brick' (as in "yellow"?), according to the Los Angeles Times. Now that the next James Bond movie has been postponed and his schedule freed up, Sam Mendes has been approached to direct and Robert Downey Jr. to star, reports FirstShowing. Neither has yet said yes.

'Oz'
Who's behind it? Temple Hill, the production company behind the 'Twilight' movies
What's it about? According to the Los Angeles Times, the script by Darren Lemke ('Shrek Forever After') is a faithful retelling of L. Frank Baum's first novel in the saga, 'The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.' Imagine the Judy Garland movie, but with more action and no music.
Status: Coming from the New Line division of Warner Bros., this has the potential to launch a vast franchise based on the 22 'Oz' books. Which is why it's the most likely of the three competing 'Oz' projects at Warners (see below) to see the light of day.

Tin Man, from Todd McFarlane's 'Twisted Land of Oz''The Twisted Land of Oz'
Who's behind it? Comic book gorehound and toymaker Todd McFarlane ('Spawn')
What's it about? Based on McFarlane's own decidedly R-rated 'Twisted Land of Oz' line of figurines (link contains some possibly NSFW imagery), his Oz includes a Scarecrow who's torn apart by ravenous birds, a Tin Man who's a junkpile of Edward Scissorhands-like limbs, a flesh-eating Lion who's not at all cowardly, a Wizard who's a gas-mask-wearing mad scientist, a carnivorous creature dubbed Toto after it eats Dorothy's dog, and a nubile Dorothy who's bound and molested by depraved Munchkins.
Status: There was confusion in the trade press (including some strewn by McFarlane himself) between this project and Josh Olson's, (see below) since both were pitched to production company Thunder Road, with an eye toward distribution by Warner Bros. Last we heard from McFarlane (via MTV), back in September, he was grumbling over Thunder Road's apparent decision to go with Olsen's more family-friendly script instead of his own. McFarlane also claimed at one point that Michael Bay was interested in directing, but we imagine he's a little too busy making movies based on another line of toys.

'Oz: Return to the Emerald City'
Who's behind it? Screenwriter Josh Olson ('A History of Violence')
What's it about?In a plot that sounds a lot like 'Surrender Dorothy,' a descendant of Dorothy Gale (this time, her granddaughter) living in contemporary America (she's a young associate at a top Chicago law firm) is called upon to defeat a new witch making trouble in Oz. Aiding the young woman are the Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Cowardly Lion that she's been hearing her grandmother talk about for years.
Status: Olsen has denied ever being affiliated with the McFarlane 'Oz,' telling MTV in January that the script he delivered to Thunder Road and Warner Bros. was based on his own original pitch. Dakota Fanning was rumored at one time to be up for the younger Dorothy, but that rumor proved false (makes sense, since Olsen's granddaughter character is an adult). Of course, both Olsen's and McFarlane's projects have to compete with Temple Hill's for Warners' favor.

Kristin Chenoweth'Wicked'
Who's behind it? Universal
What's it about? It's a film version of the Broadway smash about what Glinda the Good Witch and the Wicked Witch of the West were like when they were schoolmates, well before Dorothy showed up. (Think 'Mean Girls' with green face paint.) Winnie Holzman, who wrote the book for the musical, has also written the screenplay.
Status: Universal is a co-producer of the stage show and has owned the film rights since the play opened seven years ago. Despite an IMDB listing that cites a 2012 release date, there's been no sign of progress beyond script stage. No one has been cast, though let's hope this gets rolling before original stars (and recurring 'Glee' guest players) Kristin Chenoweth and Idina Menzel are too old to reprise their stage roles.

• Follow Gary Susman on Twitter @garysusman.