Award-winning “Watchmen” director Nicole Kassell will helm New Line’s feature adaptation of L. Frank Baum’s beloved children’s novel “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz,” according to an individual with knowledge of the project.
Marty Bowen and Wyck Godfrey from Temple Hill and Marc Platt will produce. Isaac Klausner will executive produce. Previous screenplay drafts were written by Darren Lemke and the duo of Neil Widener and Gavin James.
“I am incredibly honored to join Temple Hill and New Line in bringing this beloved classic to the screen,” Kassell said in a statement to TheWrap. “While the 1939 musical is part of my DNA, I am exhilarated and humbled by the responsibility of reimagining such a legendary tale. 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!”
“The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” was published in 1900 and became an instant hit, inspiring 13 additional “Oz” books. Considered “America’s greatest and best-loved homegrown fairytale” by the Library of Congress, it has been adapted several times to different media, including the classic 1939 musical film “The Wizard of Oz” starring Judy Garland. The new film will be a fresh take on the L. Frank Baum children’s novel and, unlike other adaptations, can draw on elements from the 1939 Oscar-winning film.
Kassell’s hiring follows a search by New Line to find a filmmaker to reimagine “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.” Regarded as a meticulous world-builder, Kassell oversaw every step of the “Watchmen” production, setting the show’s visual tone and weaving visual cues from the panels of the comic into the series as Easter eggs for fans. Kassell also demonstrated the ability to adapt challenging material, breathing new life into “Watchmen,” DC’s revered and notoriously difficult-to-adapt graphic novel. She directed three of the limited series’ nine episodes, including the pilot.
“The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” keeps Kassell in the WarnerMedia family following her work on “Watchmen” as well as acclaimed HBO series “Westworld,” “The Leftovers” and “Vinyl.” Kassell also directed the pilot for TNT’s “Claws.” Next up, Kassell will direct the HBO pilot “The Baby,” as well as the feature film “Silver Seas” for Participant Media. Kassell recently won a DGA award for dramatic series and an Emmy as executive producer of “Watchmen.”
Kassell first broke out on “The Woodsman,” which premiered in competition at the 2004 Sundance Film Festival, was distributed by Newmarket Films and was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award for best first feature.
Nicole Kassell is repped by WME and Management 360.
Deadline first reported the news.