Rubber Ducky might be the Wizard of Oz
Sam Mendes tipped to direct Robert Downey Jr in new Wizard of Oz film
Sam Mendes may not be kicking his heels for long in the wake of yesterday's announcement that the next James Bond film has been delayed indefinitely. According to Production Weekly, he's in talks to shoot Oz the Great and Powerful, an origins tale revealing how L Frank Baum's wonderful wizard ended up at the Emerald City. Mendes would most likely be working with Robert Downey Jr, who is considering taking on the title role.
Mitchell Kapner's screenplay details how the wizard arrived in Oz as part of a travelling circus when still a young man, then tricked his way to attaining the status of wisest man in the land. The film was previously known as Brick, and is one of a number of Wizard of Oz projects currently being considered in Hollywood.
Disney, fresh from blockbuster success with Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland, is the studio behind Oz the Great and Powerful, but could easily be beaten to the chase. All Baum's 14 stories about Oz are now out of copyright, meaning that anyone with the means to shoot a movie is free to pilfer from them.
Two CGI animated versions - The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, and Dorothy of Oz (based on a 1989 novel by Baum's great-grandson Roger S Baum) – are waiting in the wings should Disney drop the baton, while Pearry Teo is planning an adaptation of the Calibre Comics series Oz. Warner Bros is also reportedly considering giving the green light to two more versions.
There is also another, entirely separate project in pre-production: The Witches of Oz, which will star Lord of the Rings' Sean Astin, Christopher Lloyd (as the wizard) and Alien's Lance Henriksen. Based loosely upon the Oz series, the story is set in modern day New York. In it, a grown-up Dorothy Gale, now a successful children's book author, learns that her popular books are based on repressed childhood memories. In one scene from the trailer, flying gorillas appear to be invading the Big Apple.
The Wizard of Oz itself has been adapted for the big screen on many occasions, with the most famous version the 1939 musical starring Judy Garland as Dorothy. Disney itself brought Return to Oz, based on two of Baum's sequels, to cinemas in 1985.