Robert Downey Jr has dropped out of Sam Raimi’s Oz, The Great and Powerful, but that doesn’t mean the Disney project - an origin story for the Wizard of Oz‘s wizard - is dead. According to the Hollywood Reporter Disney’s poster boy Johnny Depp is in talks to step into the leading role.
The trade describes the film’s plot as being about ‘a young illusionist with a grandiose attitude who is forced to flee a traveling circus. His hot air balloon is swept up by a tornado to the land of Oz, which is run by two magical wicked witches.’ I guess Downey was going to be and Depp may now be playing a witch, because neither of these fuckers are ‘young.’
Oz is a big priority for Disney, and it could be the launch of a franchise for them. It also continues their incestuously close relationship with Johnny Depp, who may have helped make Alice in Wonderland a mega hit with all those posters of his Mad Hatter face. Assuming that Alice isn’t a franchise starter (and God only knows), Oz would mark Depp’s third franchise with Disney: he’s obviously the star of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, which will likely number at least six when all is said and done, and he also has The Lone Ranger set up at Disney.
Let’s see if they can try and get Depp for that Tron: Legacy sequel we keep hearing will be greenlit…
As for Oz, The Great and Powerful, the studio apparently hopes to get it underway in the second half of 2011; pre-production is already underway, with artists creating a whole new Land of Oz.