Warner Looking Into Baum’s “Oz” Books

Warner Bros. Pictures is looking into turning another fantasy novel series into a potential franchise – L. Frank Baum’s “Oz” novels which inspired cinematic classic “The Wizard of Oz” says The LA Times.

At present the studio is considering two scripts, one from Darren Lemke (“Shrek Forever After”) which Temple Hill (“Twilight”) are behind, the other a darker take by Josh Olson (“A History of Violence”) and Thunder Road Pictures (“Clash of the Titans”) which “Spawn” creator Todd MacFarlane is producing.

Either version would likely follow Baum’s books more closely than the classic 1939 film which took quite a few liberties such as the ruby slippers (in the books they are silver) and numerous character changes. While Baum’s books are in the public domain, certain elements of the 1939 film are still copyright to MGM such as the ruby slippers and the title “The Wizard of Oz”.

If it works, it could give the studio a major franchise to exploit as Baum wrote fourteen books set in Oz. There have been numerous other adaptations of the Oz works, most notably 1985’s “Return to Oz”, the 1986 anime TV series which adapted four books in the series, a rejected 2002 Mick Garris-directed TV pilot starring Melissa George, the 2007 “Tin Man” mini-series on the Sci-Fi Channel, and the musicals “The Wiz” and the more recent smash hit “Wicked”.

The new version would be a tentpole feature that will be done in 3D.