Oscar-winning filmmaker Robert Zemeckis is in very early discussions with Warner Bros. to direct a live-action remake of the 1939 MGM classic "The Wizard of Oz," an individual familiar with the project has confirmed to TheWrap.
And "remake" is the operative word. WB will be using the original "Oz" screenplay — thought it's hard to imagine that Zemeckis is planning a pointless shot-for-shot remake like Gus Van Sant's "Psycho."
Noel Langley, Florence Ryerson and Edgar Allan Woolf are credited with the original 1939 screenplay, although more than 19 writers had a hand in it, including the Cowardly Lion himself, Bert Lahr. WB bought the screenplay from Ted Turner, who acquired ownership of the script when he purchased the MGM library.
Let's at least be thankful that the studio had the good sense to recruit a filmmaker as creative as Zemeckis, as opposed to greenlighting, say, Zack Snyder's "Wizard of Oz," which would find fearless warrior Dorothy fending off an attack from a pack of flying monkeys in slow motion.
It's also a relief to see Zemeckis return to live-action filmmaking. His earlier classics such as "Back to the Future" and "Forrest Gump" have a certain whimsy about them that has been lacking from his recent animated movies.
WB's plans directly conflict with Disney, which is developing "The Great and Powerful Oz" with director Sam Raimi, who has set his sights on Robert Downey Jr. to play the titular "wizard."
What's weird is that Raimi is simultaneously developing "World of Warcraft" for Warners and Legendary, while Zemeckis is currently working on Disney's CG-animated remake of "Yellow Submarine," which is scheduled for release in 2012. So both A-list directors have ties to each studio. Zemeckis is also attached to direct the live-action time travel film "Timeless" for Warners.
One final note: Considering what the original "Wizard" did for Judy Garland's career, I anticipate that the character of Dorothy will become one of the Hollywood's most coveted roles by the industry's leading actresses. Let the name game begin!
Zemeckis is represented by CAA, and news of his potential involvement with the "Wizard of Oz" remake was first reported by Deadline.